Finding favour with God

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In Luke 1:28, the angel Gabriel addresses Mary as a “favoured woman” in case she (and we) don’t get then point, he again tells her “you have found favour with God”[1] What does it mean for Mary to have found favour? Roman Catholic tradition seems to put the focus on her and her life. Mary is in some way worthy of the task ahead of her.  This led to the conclusion that in some way Mary too must have been sinless in order to avoid passing on sin to her son.  Therefore, just as Jesus had a miraculous conception, so too did Mary (The Immaculate Conception).  Mary then becomes an ethereal figure, she isn’t contaminated by sin or death and so is assumed into Heaven where her special status enables her to intercede for us.

The Biblical account is in fact very different. Mary, far from perfect fails to understand why her son would remain at the Temple in Jerusalem and later, perhaps cajoled a little by her other sons goe to take Jesus back under her guardianship when everyone thinks that he has gone crazy.

Yet Mary finds favour with God. He favours her. So what is this all about. I want to suggest that the favouring is the calling to the role of Christ’s mother itself.  This is an act of grace to Mary.  God chooses her from among all women to bear his Son, our saviour. According to some interpretations of 1 Timothy 2:15

But women will be saved through childbearing,

It is specifically through “the child bearing” that Paul is saying that women are being saved and Mary herself is the first woman to benefit from  Christ’s birth, death and resurrection.  Whether or not the interpretation of 1 Timothy is right, the broader theological point is certainly true. Mary will be saved through the birth of her Son. This is a gift of grace to her.

You and I too may know God’s favour on our lives and it is specifically in that Christ comes to indwell us that we receive that favour. It is always, only, ever about Grace.

[1] Luke 1:30.

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