This statement looks simple on the surface, but I find it very challenging to understand fully. This passage occurs after the angel Gabriel explains in detail the role for which Mary has been chosen and how it will occur. "With God nothing will be impossible.” But this pronouncement is written with a double negative. Why? Though it means the same thing logically, it does not say "With God everything will be possible.” Why not? Rather, the focus is on the impossible or that which appears impossible to us. In the double negative structure, it says that with God, the impossible will not be. It is future oriented, a promise. But that isn’t the end of what is perplexing. The structure of the sentence as written is also ambiguous. We don’t know if “with God” refers to God or to someone like Mary who lives in deep faith with God. It isn't clear. Perhaps it means both simultaneously, especially since God is inextricably linked to us. So, focusing on God, it seems to state that God is all powerful and thereby has the power to make the (apparent) impossible happen. And as an incredibly gifting God, this means that the impossible that God creates will necessarily be a miracle (good). Now, if we shift the meaning to those who live life “with God”, like Mary, that which appears to be impossible is not and will not be. So, as Mary demonstrates, the roles we are given, the challenges we are singled out for, or even the burdens that look impossible to endure will not be insurmountable or unbearable after all. With God, we are promised a future where the impossible is not possible. What a truly amazing gift that is. It certainly isn't easy, but it is definitely not impossible.
So, in this season of abundance and presents, let us be on the lookout for those genuine miracles that defy logic, give evidence of God's love, and let us nurture our faith to believe in God's promise of tomorrow, no matter how challenging or daunting it may seem.
Carol W. Anthony
Center for Peace and Justice Education
Advent comes from the Latin word, adventus – an arrival or a coming. In the context of the season, Advent means that the Lord is coming. Read more of the Advent introduction...
First Week of Advent
Second Week of Advent
Third Week of Advent
Fourth Week of Advent