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Our readers asked:

When Mary says “How can this be?”, why doesn’t she understand the angel?

Ginny Kubitz Moyer Answers:

When you look at the Annunciation story in the gospel of Luke, you can see that the angel’s message is pretty astonishing.

“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Luke 1:30-33).

I think that if most of us were in Mary’s position, it would take some effort to wrap our minds around what we had just been told. Moreover, as a virgin, Mary naturally has a hard time understanding exactly how she could become pregnant: “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” (1:34) She’s asking the obvious question, as we probably all would do in her place.

In some ways, I think the biggest question of this story is not why Mary doesn’t understand what the angel is saying, but how she willingly embraces the astonishing future that God is offering her. To do so must have taken tremendous faith, and a whole lot of courage, too.

The Author : Ginny Kubitz Moyer
Ginny Kubitz Moyer is the author of the award-winning book Mary and Me: Catholic Women Reflect on the Mother of God. She lives with her family in the San Francisco Bay Area and blogs at randomactsofmomness.com.
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  • Carlos Constanza

    yes I agree with you but sometimes Religion can be a very one track minded way , Where as a relationship with God is very different from religion . I always seek the truth in everything . I think thats why I like to solve problems fix things that is . The church did not tell me this It is the general attitude of of all major religions to control thats why Luther wrote the 95 thesis at the doors of the church .

  • Carlos Constanza

    I was just reading the stages of jewish marriage and wow 7 years is a long time to wait well in todays view of it you know . and if at the time of consumation seven years later . She woinders how can this be . According to the jewish law of marriage back then . That lieaves a big gap . The seven years that is . Just analysing the whole situation . But who knows what happemed back then . In church we are just told to believe not analyze . I do thank God for the work that Christ did for us he open the way for us to be free from the Religious laws . he gave us grace .

    • Mike

      haha is that what you where really told by the “church” ” In church we are just told to believe not analyze”

      makes for a bunch of dead heads don’t you think? To that I say blind acceptance is a sin. because they could tell you anything and you’d just blindly accept it for the truth, whereas Jesus said to seek the truth.

  • Andy

    Interesting also how her response differs from Zechariah’s just a few verses earlier. He says “How shall I know this?”–how can I believe you?–while Mary, who already knows that God is true to His word, asks “How can this be?”–how will God bring this about?

    • Mike

      one its an angle, so that says a lot, if you knew it was an angle and then you should already know that angles come from God, therefore what ever that Angle is telling you is speaking for God Himself, therefore you are now having God telling you something in Person the only way he can tell you in “face to face” Person is by the use of an angle, so yes one should aught to beleive what ever the angel is telling you, but Jesus was not an angle, he was just a man therefore the doubts enter the mind of a man if what that person is saying to you is the truth. that is why Jesus said seek the truth. etc………………………………….

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