4th Sunday of Advent – “How Can This Be?”

Luke 1:26-38 | 4th Sunday of Advent, Year B

“How Can This Be?”

Mary’s response to Gabriel echoed through the years:

“How can this be…?” when she gave birth in a manger and three wise men visited.

“How can this be…?” when she found herself with a toddler and a new husband far from home in Egypt because Herod wanted to murder her child.

“How can this be…?” when God’s Son went missing for three days after Passover.

“How can this be…?” when she and Joseph finally located a twelve-year-old Jesus teaching with such wisdom the leaders in the temple were spellbound.

“How can this be…?” when the Messiah chose to live as an itinerant preacher.

“How can this be…?” when the child she had so lovingly raised said of her, “Who are my mother and my brothers?” (Mark 3:33).

“How can this be…” when the very human child she had raised performed miracle after miracle, healing the sick, bringing the dead to life, banishing evil spirits.

“How can this be…” when her Son stumbled down the Road to Calvary, a wooden beam thrown across His bleeding back, to hang on the cross.

“How can this be…” when she laid her Child’s body in a borrowed grave…when the tomb was empty three days later…when He appeared in the Upper Room…when He ascended into heaven.

Mary’s replied to Gabriel first in wonderment, “How will this happen?” Then in pain, “How will I bear it?” And then a return to awe as her Son returned to the Father.

In Nazareth, Gabriel had given her the only plausible answer: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you.” It was true for the teenager, and, thirty-three years later, it was still true for the forty-six year old woman at the foot of the cross.

How often have we too said some version of, “How can this be…?” Nearly two thousand years later, if we listen, we too can hear Gabriel’s answer. And, just like Mary, we must believe.


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