My name is Gabriel. I am the messenger of God. Whenever He wants to tell his children about something truly important, He sends me to announce it to them.
Sometimes it is centuries between my visits, but this year has been different. I am about to make my third announcement in only 9 months.
In the first of the three, I was sent to a girl. She was young and lovely.
I was ready for her to react as most people do when they see an actual angel – with fear. Some even faint. Many times, I disguise myself, shrouding the glory of heaven contained in my presence, so they can stay focused enough to speak with me. But I had been instructed not to do anything to soften my appearance with her, so I was expecting a fairly extreme reaction.
When she saw me, she just stood still. She didn’t look frightened, or even startled. She didn’t say anything at all. She just looked straight into my face and waited.
Her eyes were unlike any that I had ever seen. The expression that human eyes are the mirrors of human souls is more true than people know. And her eyes were like pools of light, totally clear and brilliantly bright. They were filled with a serenity that only comes from union with God Himself.
"Hail, full of grace," I greeted her. The name perfectly described what her eyes reflected.
Still she waited.
And so I told her that God had sent me with a request. He was asking her to become the mother of His Son, who would redeem the world. I thought she would have many questions, but she had only one.
"How?" she asked.
I answered, briefly, still expecting a barrage of questions. Instead, she simply agreed to do what God asked. And in that instant, a shadow enveloped her. I could see her through it, and waited for the usual reaction when a human is touched by the finger of God.
But that reaction never came. Instead the brilliance that I had seen reflected in her eyes radiated around her. It was so incredibly intense that I, Gabriel, had to shield my eyes. And then it was over.
She began calmly preparing to visit her cousin Elizabeth, but although the shadow was gone, and the light had faded, she was different. Heaven’s glory radiated from her.
The second announcement was, for me, more in the usual manner. It happened in a dream. I often work that way since the buffer of sleep keeps fear at bay.
This time I spoke to a young man. I had been watching him for a while. He was the betrothed of the young woman. And he was suffering.
He knew that she was with child. He also knew that the child was not his. He had waited patiently and lovingly for an explanation, ready to forgive any transgression. But no explanation had been given.
I wanted to tell him the truth then, but I was instructed to wait.
Several months went by as he struggled with the situation. If he denounced her, she would be stoned. He would be within the law to do so.
He could not bring himself to take that step. But neither could he just act as if all was normal. So he decided to keep silent, and then divorce her. Such a step meant that he would be viewed as a man who abandoned his family, and he would have to leave his home in disgrace. In effect, he would assume the punishment for what he thought was her sin.
That is the moment when I was given permission to speak with him. He would be a suitable father for the One Who would assume the punishment for human sin, balancing the scales of justice with an act of love. This man would understand that mission, and do all in his power to support its accomplishment.
When I told him the truth, I could feel his joy right through his sleep.
And now I am waiting to make my third announcement.
The man and his wife are approaching. He is gently guiding her toward the stable where I wait. She looks tired, but she still acknowledges my presence with a soft nod.
It takes a few hours, but finally the cry of a newborn child fills the stable. She cradles Him until He relaxes into sleep, and then wraps Him in a soft blanket and places Him in a manger filled with fresh sweet hay.
It is time.
And I make the announcement that will sound throughout the universe and its echoes will reach until the end of time.
"Behold, I bring you good tidings of great joy, a joy to be shared by all people. Today in the town of David a savior has been born to you, He is Christ the Lord!"