The Gospel of Luke provides us with perhaps the most well-known and well-loved account of the birth of Jesus. Matthew’s lead up to Jesus’ birth is a 42 generation genealogy and a dream conversation Joseph has with an angel. Luke’s lead up is a series of visits between relatives as well as between angels and human beings, including one by the angel Gabriel to a young woman named Mary.
The first words out of the angel’s mouth are, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” I can’t really say I blame Mary for being a bit confused in response to the angel’s words. Forget for a moment that this is an angel speaking to her; that doesn’t seem to bother her too much (Luke says she’s perplexed by his words, not his sudden appearance). She is being paid a compliment and a very choice one at that. She has just been told that she is enriched or endowed with grace. She has been chosen by the Lord for something extremely special.
When somebody you don’t know greets you and pays you a compliment, why is our first response often one of suspicion? Maybe we think they are just trying to get something from us. Maybe we don’t believe what they are saying about us is true. It can be hard sometimes to discern just where their words are coming from and why.
What sort of greeting do you offer to those who come across your path on a daily basis? Do you prepare the words you say or do you offer them in haste? Do you intend them to build up the other person or to help you get something from them? What sort of greeting do you offer family, friend, or stranger?