In the sixth month, God sent the angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin pledged in marriage to a man named Joseph, who was of the house of David. And the virgin’s name was Mary. The angel appeared to her and said, “Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.”
“Greetings, you who are highly favored! The Lord is with you.” What a promise. What a declaration! Gabriel, when he announced the conception of Christ Jesus in Mary’s womb, told her of the favor she’d found in God’s eyes and of the grace extended to her in the promise that “the Lord is with you.”
Though she wasn’t to fully know or understand what that promise meant, we can see it now. When Gabriel told her the Lord was with her, it wasn’t just some extension of a nice greeting or salutation, like “God be with you.” No, there’s much more meaning in this phrase when you ponder that she was with child, she was pregnant with Jesus Himself. In other words, the God that was with her, who Gabriel announced, was the Child in her womb, sharing in her humanity.
Christ was with her by living within her, putting on her flesh. This was more than just a phrase, for it was a declared reality that Mary needed to see; her eyes needed to be opened to behold, by faith, what was happening within her. And so it is with us. It’s going to take faith to believe that the Christ Child is growing in our hearts, that we are becoming more and more Christlike. This is part of the Advent—the waiting—we are doing, for we wait to see in fullness what we now only see in part by faith, and dimly at that!
Gabriel began by pronouncing God’s favor and culminated with declaring that the God with Mary, the Immanuel, was within her, growing and taking on a full-fledged expression of humanity. Somehow God found a way to fuse flesh and Spirit together in Christ, and He was enacting that miracle in Mary’s womb. Wonder can spring forth in our own hearts when we let our minds wander into the mystery that as with Mary, so with us: Christ grows within us, putting on our flesh, and He will live out the life of God through us. What mystery, His incarnation! What wonder, our new birth in Him!