In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, 27 to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. 28 And he came to her and said, “Greetings, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” 29 But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and tried to discern what sort of greeting this might be.
In the throes of the current Star Wars mania, the greeting, “May the Force be with you,” would most likely be well-received. We would be happy for an impersonal strength/wisdom/power source that we could use for whatever purposes we would wish. Some take it to the dark side. Others use it for good. It is ours to have and to use.
Not so the presence, power, and direction of God – the Ultimate Force. And while we might wonder why Mary is not more readily open to the presence and favor of God, her discretion and caution are well advised.
There are several reasons that we might wish to be cautious about God’s favor and presence if we’re honest. We are a willful lot, and want to keep our options open. We are easily tempted to give in to sinful impulses, or wish to embrace ways other than God’s ways. His presence and favor might cramp our style.
Whether Mary thought through all those things is not clear. But she did wonder what it might mean that she was favored, and that the Lord was with her. She does not reject the notion. Neither does she ignore it. She seeks to discern what are the implications of that greeting.
This is an opportunity for us all to discern what it means to be favored by God, and to have him present in our lives; for this is our lot. It is a great fortune, and wonderful blessing to embrace. But it’s not just a throw-down phrase, or a trite spiritual trinket. This is a life-shaping blessing which merits our consideration and embrace.