Luke narrates the announcement of Jesus’ birth in strict parallelism with that of the Baptist. The contrast between both scenes is so surprising that it allows us to perceive God’s Mystery, incarnate in Jesus, with new light.
The announcement of the Baptist’s birth takes place in «Jerusalem», the grandiose capital of Israel, the political and religious center of the Jewish people. Jesus’ birth is announced in an unknown village in the mountains of Galilee. A town with nothing noteworthy about it, called «Nazareth», from which no one expects anything good to come. A few years later, these humble villages will welcome Jesus’ message announcing God’s goodness. Jerusalem on the other had will reject it. It’s almost always that way: it’s the little ones, the insignificant ones who better understand and welcome the God incarnate in Jesus.
The announcement of the Baptist’s birth takes place in the sacred space of the «temple». That of Jesus in a poor house of a «village». Jesus presents himself there, where people live, work, rejoice and suffer. He lives among them, alleviating the suffering and offering the Father’s forgiveness. God has become flesh, not to stay in temples, but to «dwell among us» and share our life.
The announcement of the Baptist’s birth was heard by a venerable «man», the priest Zechariah, during a solemn ritual celebration. That of Jesus happens to Mary, a «young woman» maybe 12 years old. There’s no indication of where she is or what she’s doing. Who could be interested in the work of a woman? However Jesus, the Son of God incarnate, will look on women differently, defending their dignity and welcoming them among his disciples.
Lastly, of the Baptist it is announced that he will be born of Zechariah and Elizabeth, a sterile couple blessed by God. Of Jesus it’s says something absolutely new. The Messiah will be born of Mary, a young virgin. God’s Spirit will be at the origin of his appearing in the world. That’s why «he will be called Son of God». The Savior of the world isn’t born as the fruit of the love of two spouses who love each other mutually. He is born as the fruit of God’s Love for all humanity. Jesus isn’t a gift that Mary and Joseph make. It’s a gift that God makes for us.
José Antonio Pagola
Translator: Fr. Jay VonHandorf