How Can This Be?

December 8, 2021 – Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception

Each day, I reflect upon a word or a phrase from the readings of the day. I encourage you to do the same and perhaps incorporate that word or phrase into your daily prayer.

“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.

But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be?” (Luke 1:26-38)

HOW CAN THIS BE?: Matthew Kelly has a video series called Best Advent Ever.

In one segment, Matthew addressed the simple question Mary asked of the angel: “How can this be?”

He pointed out that maintaining an obedience of faith does not preclude us from asking questions. He said, and I quote, “Mary questions God in a way of absolute faith.”

It is possible to be obedient and have questions! This revelation allows those of us that have questions regarding our faith to be free of the guilt that often comes along with it.

The key, Matthew said, is the intent behind our question. What is the state of our heart?

Mary was told, “You will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”

She did not respond, “That’s impossible!” Instead, her faith allowed her to accept it was possible because that is what the angel sent by God had told her. She trusted the word of God.

She accepted with faith, so her question came from a place of faith. “How can this be?” she asked. In other words, I accept that what you are telling me is true, can you give me more information? Can you lead me to a deeper understanding?

In addressing Mary’s “How can this be?” question, Matthew Kelly highlighted the difference between cynicism and skepticism. The cynic questions with a heart of disbelief. He is not seeking the truth because he desires to hold onto to his own version of the truth.

The skeptic questions with a heart that desires to know more, that seeks a deeper understanding of the truth.

Much is made of Mary’s bold “Yes!” to what God asked of her. She is the ultimate example of accepting the will of God. However, what is often overlooked in that significant scriptural moment is Mary’s simple question, “How can this be?”

We learn that a legitimate part of maintaining an obedience of faith is asking questions – digging deeper in the hope of a more complete understanding of the truth God places before us.

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