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The favoured one

24 Dec 2020, by Rev. Fr. Joel Okojie OSA in Mater Dei

The reality of divine favour is incontestable; the scripture holds the records of divine blessing and favour upon individuals, groups, and families of different eras of biblical times and even today. Of all those divinely blessed and favoured, none is like the Blessed Virgin Mary. The angel Gabriel says she is the favoured one or the highly favoured (Lk. 1:28), depends on your bible version. The fullness of grace upon the Blessed Virgin Mary and the unimaginable magnitude of divine favour upon her makes her stand out not just among women but among God’s creatures. Indeed, the divine blessing and favour upon Mary have endeared her to every heart in every generation.

Meditating on the first mystery of the five joyful mysteries of the holy rosary, the awareness of the fullness of divine favour upon Mary dawned on me in a new and breath-taking way. Before angel Gabriel visited Mary to announce God’s incarnation, the same angel had seen Zechariah and informed him of his answered prayer. Even though Zechariah’s hope of having a child with his wife, Elizabeth, was biologically impossible, God promised them a child. To this promise, Zechariah questioned the angel; “How will I know that this is so? For I am an old man, and my wife is getting on in years?”

For questioning the angel, Zechariah became dumb until the angel’s words came to pass (Lk. 1:8-20). But when Mary asked a similar question, “How can this be, since I am a virgin? The angel started explaining to Mary how it would happen (Lk. 1: 26:35). Why didn’t the angel curse Mary? High level of favour! Even the angels of heaven honour her.

I’m not oblivious of the arguments about Mary and Zechariah’s responses; it is claimed that Zechariah in his response expressed the feeling of a doubt why Mary sought understanding, but both questioned the angel. Why was Mary not punished for not just accepting the word from the angel Gabriel without asking how it would happen? She is favoured!

I sometimes wonder why honouring this great woman that God himself has honoured offends some people; no one can curse what God has not cursed (Numbers 23:8). God has favoured the Virgin Mary, and from generation to generation, she would be called Blessed (Lk. 1:48), for the Almighty has done great things for her.