“For to us a child is born, to us a son is given, and the government will be on his shoulders. And he will be called Wonderful Counselor, Mighty God, Everlasting Father, Prince of Peace. Of the greatness of his government and peace there will be no end. He will reign on David’s throne and over his kingdom, establishing and upholding it with justice and righteousness from that time on and forever. The zeal of the Lord will accomplish this.”
Isaiah 9: 6 – 7
Have you ever wondered what would have happened if Mary did not believe what the Angel Gabriel revealed to her on the day he visited her and announced, “Greetings, you are highly favored! The Lord is with you…Do not be afraid, Mary; you have found favor with God. You will conceive and give birth to a son, and you are to call him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” (Luke 1: 28 – 33)
I am sure it would have been a different story. How different? God would have asked the Angel Gabriel to look for another virgin to care for the “child” in her womb and after nine months give birth to our Savior and Lord Jesus.
But we know that Mary chose well after hearing the angel’s answer to her innocent question, “How will this be since I am a virgin?”
Angel Gabriel answered her with the assuring words (and my favorite verse in the whole bible, for you see Angel Gabriel is my namesake, I am Angelito Gabriel, the little version of Angel Gabriel!), “For no word from God will ever fail.” Luke 1:37
I would say that Mary listened intently to Angel Gabriel when he announced how she found favor with God. She understood the meaning of the angel’s announcement that she readily responded, “I am the Lord’s servant. May your word be to me fulfilled” (Luke 1:38).
When you think that Mary was in her early teens and already betrothed to Joseph when the angel appeared to her and brought this unusual announcement, it makes you wonder why she believed the angel. Did she not worry about the gossip that would have spread when people knew she became pregnant by somebody other than Joseph? But Mary believed the good news brought by the angel and she chose well.
In the Roman Catholic tradition this verse is part of the faithful’s prayer of devotion for incarnation, called the Angelus. Many artists have painted this scene, which is called the Annunciation. My favorite painting is the one painted by Leonardo da Vinci which original is in the Uffizi Gallery in Florence. See the painting below:
Why is this my favorite painting? A number of good reasons and a long story should explain it.
First, it is a lesser-known painting by da Vinci whose masterpiece and more popular painting is the Mona Lisa now displayed in Louvre, France.
Second, the Annunciation was da Vinci’s first major work. He painted the background, the wings of the angel, and the finishing touches to the painting when his teacher, Andrea del Verrocchio, left a note to him to finish the painting that the teacher started.
Third, I saw both the originals of these two paintings.
In 2012, my family joined Rick Steves Europe Family tour. My wife and our four children joined other families, mostly from the U.S.
At age 55, I retired from work at PricewaterhouseCoopers, Philippines after more than thirty years of service to our people and our clients. I decided to spend a yearlong rest and not do any kind of remunerated work for a while. I also promised my family to spend some of my retirement money in our tour of Europe. It was during this tour when I saw the original paintings of Mona Lisa at the Louvre in Paris and The Annunciation at the Uffizi Gallery in Florence.
I would say that I liked The Annunciation better and found it more beautiful and exquisite than the Mona Lisa. Besides, viewers of the Mona Lisa are not allowed to come near it. It is encased in a theft-proof thick protective glass. When you look at it together with other viewers you will see the reflection of your face and other people’s faces on the protective glass more than the face of Mona Lisa!
Fourth, I bought a reproduction copy of The Annunciation, framed it and hanged it in one of our condominium units. It serves as an extra room for our friends from other countries who visit with us or a friend’s friend needing a temporary place to stay. We call this room, “a space for grace”!
And just recently our eldest daughter, Angelica Felice, decided to occupy our “space for grace” and used it as her own place. Graciously, we allowed her!
Fifth, sometime in 2015, the works of da Vinci was displayed at the Mind Museum, Bonifacio Global City, a central business district in the Philippines. My darling daughter and also an angel, Angelica Felice, bought me a ticket so we could visit together the museum and see the works of da Vinci. There was a huge reproduction of The Annunciation that was on display. I took the chance to have a photo with it as the background. The Angel Gabriel on Mary’s left and myself on the right side of the painting. See photo below:
If I will put a title to the above picture, I would call it, “Three Angels and the Virgin Mary”. You may ask, “Why three angels? There is the Angel Gabriel and you, Angelito Gabriel. Where is the other one?”
My response would be, “Angelica Felice is the third angel. She took that photo!”
Some angel stories huh!