Mary's window

December 9th, 2014

Imagine an ordinary day in your life — business as usual — except for one thing: You are visited by an angel. Whoa! So much for the ordinary day. That’s exactly what happened to Mary, and Luke’s words hardly do the moment justice, “She was confused by these words” (Luke 1:29 CEB).

But don’t let Mary’s surprise fool you. It is exactly the response we all should make when we have an encounter with God. If you come out of your God-moment with clarity and perfect understanding, I am guessing it was not God whom you met. No one who is enveloped by the Mystery can perfectly and completely put it into words.

Mary’s window on Advent reminds us that the purpose of our God encounters is not understanding, but trust: “Let it be with me just as you have said” (Luke 1:38) is the response of every servant.

In Western societies in particular, we are far too prone to view faith in terms of persuasive information (even revelation) that makes a response credible. Faith is, and must be, sensible. We are children of the Enlightenment, where reason reigns, the mind dominates and words suffice.

But for Mary, and any who since have met God as she did, we are left with as many (perhaps more) questions than we have answers: “How will this happen?” (Luke 1:34). And ironically, it is the wonder of our questions (asked in the presence of angels) that keeps us engaged in our faith journey far more than if we could build our booths on the mountain of transfiguration, and sit inside them with all our ducks in a row.

This Advent, look through Mary’s window — the window of surprise that ignites wonder, love and praise. You will never come to the end of what you see.

Steve Harper is the author of “For the Sake of the Bride.” He blogs at Oboedire.

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