What’s in a greeting, and how shall one respond to a surprising visitor? Well,
it depends—especially if that greeting comes in angelic form. Mary is at
least in good company. Luke’s story has carefully structured her response to
mirror that of Zechariah (1:12): She is “terrified” (not “perplexed”) and full of
But tucked in the angel’s greeting is a clue to what’s going on here—and the
one thing that has the power to transform that fear. “Greetings, favored one ...
for you have found favor with God.” As the saying goes, the story loses a little
in the usual translation. In the original Greek, the word translated “favor” is
actually the word “grace.” It is as if to say, “Mary, you have been graced by the
presence of God.”
For us, too, that is the greeting that calls for our response as we stand in this
fourth week of Advent. The surprising good news of grace is the presence of
God, transforming our fears into the joy of God’s wonderful promise at Jesus’
Merciful God, may we hear in your word of promise the surprising note of grace that
has the power to transform all our fears into a welcome joy at your visitation. Amen.