Let’s try to hear the Archangel Gabriel’s words as Mary heard them, letting go of our knowledge of subsequent events.
You will bear a son, who will be called Son of the Most High. 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.
Now, Mary had faith as pure as anyone has ever had. But she also certainly had a practical turn of mind. Her subsequent question aimed solely at the immediate logisitcal difficulties. Usually no man means no baby.
Had Mary not thought in such humble, practical terms, she might have asked: “Hold on. What are you talking about? Can you please explain the meaning of your grand phrases?”
Son of the Most High. Throne of David. House of Jacob. Endless kingdom. Sounds grand. But what exactly does it all mean?
Now, one thing Mary certainly understood immediately, with no need of explanation. The angel was telling her that she was to give birth to Moshiach.
Bar Elyon (Son of the Most High), throne of David = Messiah. Mary certainly instantly understood this much: The angel was telling her that she would give birth to the Messiah.
Clear as a bell. Except for the fact that the entire New Testament drips with evidence that, while the Jewish people awaited the Messiah with eager longing, they hardly had a clear consensus about what the Messiah would do exactly.
Kick out the Romans. Distribute raisin cakes. Make the High Priests more honest. Sing better than King David himself. Bring an end to history. Give a new beginning to history. Not a lot of clarity there.
So, back to the Blessed Mother: One thing did immediately happen. She got pregnant. She said Yes to the angel, and she got pregnant. So she knew that the angel did not lie. She had the Messiah in her womb. Then, nine months later, more proof came: the shepherds and wise men arrived, making momentous declarations about the baby.
But, putting ourselves once again in Mary’s sandals: Wouldn’t all these proofs that Yes, He is the Messiah–wouldn’t they have made the obscurity and total normalcy of the ensuing years all the more mysterious? She knew He was the Messiah. But He grew up and became a carpenter.
If it were you or me mothering this Messiah, we would certainly be thinking, “My boy’s the Son of the Most High. Where’s my Cadillac? Why aren’t I rich and famous, like Queen Elizabeth?”
Mary watched her only Son, the Messiah, be crucified and then die in agony.
‘But the angel said something about the throne of David and an endless kingdom… What the…?’
Mysterium fidei. In the gospels, don’t we hear the Lord Jesus trying to get the people to grasp this over and over again? The mission of the Messiah is a mystery of faith. The only Cadillac involved is the interior Cadillac that carries us straight to the throne of the heavenly Father, the Cadillac that does us more good than a million Rolls Royces.
Believing. Like Mary believed, without understanding, from Word One spoken by the Archangel Gabriel, all the way through to Easter Sunday morning.