Thursday of the Third Week


IS 7: 10-14

LK 1:26-38


Humans make thousands of decisions daily. This many decisions may seem like an impossible amount. Some decisions we make are impulsive, and happen without much thought at all, while others require deep thought, reflection, guidance, and prayer. The latter are the decisions where discernment, or how we align our own will with the will of God in order to determine how God is calling us to act, are essential.

In today’s Gospel reading, Mary is told by the angel Gabriel that she has found favor with God and will give birth to a son, Jesus. Mary’s initial response to Gabriel’s appearance to her is one of “great trouble” and “pondering (1:29).” After reassurance and further guidance from the angel Gabriel, Mary asks a direct and pointed question- “how can this be (1:34)?” The angel replies by informing her that this is the work of the Holy Spirit by the power of the Most High, and additionally informs Mary that her cousin Elizabeth is also experiencing the endless possibilities of God, as Elizabeth is with child.

Mary’s reaction to what seems impossible is one that we must pay attention to in both the Gospel and our own lives. Rather than impulsively accepting or rejecting the angel’s message, Mary takes the time to discern how God’s will aligns with her own will. What makes Mary such a powerful model to emulate is her wisdom to discern, her relatability of needing assurance, and her courage to engage with the endless possibilities of God, even when all of the answers may not yet be apparent.

The Advent season is all about transformation to prepare for the coming of Christ. As we prepare, the promise of fulfillment and joy awaits us. Today’s Gospel reading encourages us to notice and question with our mind and our heart all of the ways God is present in our lives and all of the possibilities that He presents. Be curious, like Mary, and ask pointed questions to see how His will aligns with your own. It is when we begin to recognize all of God’s possibility that we lead lives that transform us from who we think we are to what God has called us to be- and this brings us the blessings of God’s fulfillment and joy.

Melissa Sheil
Community Director, Missions B
Residential Education