Podcast Reflections

Reflection on Luke 1.26-38 (Advent: O Clavis David, 20 December)

Listen to a reflection for Advent: O Clavis David, Tuesday 20 December 2022, on Luke 1.26-38

O Clavis David

O Key of David and sceptre of the House of Israel; 
you open and no one can shut; 
you shut and no one can open: 
Come and lead the prisoners from the prison house, 
those who dwell in darkness and the shadow of death.

Luke 1.26-38 
The birth of Jesus foretold

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’ Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’ Then the angel departed from her. 


From yesterday’s account of the foretelling of the birth of John the Baptist, we move to the foretelling of Jesus’ birth. We move from the conception of the Messiah’s forerunner, to the conception of the Messiah himself. Yesterday our reading focused on Zechariah and Elizabeth, the human parents of John. Today we hear of Mary, the one whom God has chosen to bear his Son. Yesterday we heard of Zechariah’s scepticism, today we hear of Mary’s lack of hesitation as she said: Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.

Mary, that simple peasant girl; the one who said, ‘Yes,’ to God; the one who was with Jesus throughout his earthly life and death, has been the focus of many myths and legends down the centuries. Mary, whom Orthodox Christians call Theotokos, which means ‘God bearer’, has been elevated to a divine status in her own right. Many Christians call upon the Virgin Mary as the one who can most effectively carry their prayers to God because of her unique place in the history of the Christian faith. However any of us choose to view the role of Mary over the centuries since Christ’s birth, death and resurrection, the words of scripture remain unchanged. Mary was, in effect, the first to respond to God’s call into a life of Christian discipleship. Surely, that alone is something we should celebrate and give thanks for.

Notwithstanding social taboos and doctrinal niceties, today’s reading is inviting us to reflect upon our own response to God’s call in our lives. Each and every one of us is called, by God, into a life of discipleship. Each call is unique and matches the gifts and talents God knows that we have. Each call will be a challenge because it will ask more of us than we believe we can manage. In the same way, Mary was being asked to believe that she would bear a child, even though she was a virgin, and that that child was the Son of God. Whatever God asks of us, it will never match his call to Mary. Then, when we reflect upon Mary’s response, how can we justify our obfuscation and prevarication?

Our journey through Advent has been a journey of preparation. Yes, it is a journey preparing us for a time of great celebration, but it has also been a journey that should have equipped us to join Mary in saying, ‘Yes,’ when God calls on us to play our part in his story. Let us pray that we might not hesitate when that call comes.