Summary: The expectation and hope instilled by the birth of Jesus among the people of the world is the salvation of history.
On this 2nd Sunday of the advent season, we are called to reflect on the episode of the announcement of the birth of Jesus to an unwed mother called Mary.
Let me invite you to spend some time with me to meditate on Luke 1:26-36.
In the 1st chapter of LK, there are two important announcements made by the angel Gabriel.
The announcement of the birth of John the Baptist to Zechariah.
The announcement of the birth of Jesus to the unwed mother called Mary.
It is not by accident that Luke’s gospel begins with the announcement of John’s birth. John the Baptist was the forerunner of Jesus Christ. He was the one appointed to make clear the way for Jesus Christ.
In 1 BC Caesar August was the most powerful person in the world. It was said of him that he came to a Rome made of bricks and left it a city of marble. He transformed the world, not just Rome, but the entire world with his roads and armies. Mourners at his funeral comforted themselves with the belief that he was a god and therefore immortal. They believed Caesar had shaped the world.
As we read Luke’s account of Christ’s birth, the world was in a hustle and bustle trying to get back to the city of their birth for a census. Caesar had commanded that a census would be taken and the whole world stood to its feet. (Luke 2:1-2) In the commotion of Caesar’s world, the world took little note as to what was happening in Bethlehem.
Luke 2:1-3 “In those days Caesar Augustus issued a decree that a census should be taken of the entire Roman world. And everyone went to his own town to register. (NIV)
The world snapped to attention when Caesar gave the order. Caesar’s edict was the most important thing happening in their world and no one even imagined that God was about to enter the world. In the census, the name of Jesus was entered and Jesus, the son of God became a human being in this world. Not only that, he became a part of the history of the world.
If God was going to send his son Jesus into the world, why did he not prepare a robe, a crown and an ivory palace for his arrival? Why was not Jesus born in the Caesar’s palace in royal splendor with all the pomp and ceremony of a real earthly prince. Why was the Prince of Peace, the Lord of lords, born in a cattle stall? Why such a lowly birth?
Why didn’t God grab the news headlines about the birth of his Son. Why such disgraceful circumstances? If God is going to send his Son into the world, why not have him born in gracious circumstances? Why has the Christ child come through a race the rest of the world considered despicable? Why have him born in questionable circumstances? A single teenage girl seems to raise the question of illegitimacy. (John 8:41) It would be a sword others would use to pierce the soul of his mother till her dying day. (Luke 2:35) Why should he have a stepfather and be conceived by a single mother? Why would you want the Christ child living with a poor family (Mark 6:3), Surely the Son of God is too holy to share such circumstances; he deserves more.
Imagine living in a world where God is so distant, so far removed. Oh, he exists, but he is out there in the cosmos somewhere . . . perhaps a trillion light years away. We consider God as unapproachable as those who snap their fingers to make the world come to its feet. When the Word became flesh, God became real, he became dependent upon the same air we breath to sustain life. When God became the son of Adam, he became so human that most lose sight of his divinity. It seems as though the scriptures are as intent on stressing Jesus’ humanity as they are on stressing his deity. Paul wrote, "For there is one God and one mediator between God and men, the man Christ Jesus." (1 Timothy 2:5 NIV) God descended to the lowest status earth had to offer and the Word became flesh . . . the Word became real.
No Birthday is celebrated without the presence of the mother. It is appropriate for us to remember Mary, the mother of Jesus as we celebrate Christmas.
Why did God choose Mary? What is so special about Mary? In reality, or in the worldly sense, there was actually nothing special about Mary. Mary was just an ordinary peasant girl. She must have been aged between 13 and 16 years old. She came from an insignificant town of Nazareth. She was loyal and faithful to God. Mary was chosen because she was able to say, “let it be according to your will”