Being Favoured by God
by Fr Daniel Fanous
And having come in, the angel said to her, “Rejoice, highly favoured one, the Lord is with you; blessed are you among women!” (Luke 1:26-28) “Rejoice highly favoured one,” or later it says about St Mary that “you have found favour with God.” (Luke 1:30)
What does it mean? These incredible words… that somebody can be favoured by God! That God looks down upon a person and says, “you are favoured by Me.”
Is there anything more important in life than to sit and decide, “I want to pursue the favour of God?” I would love that God looks down and the person that He says, “highly favoured one, the Lord has favoured you.” is me.
What does that word “favoured” mean? In Greek it comes from the word meaning “grace,” and so it literally means that God is favouring somebody or that He extends favour or His grace onto that person. So, either He says with feeling, “I favour that person,” or gives something of Himself to that person – He extends His favour to that person. And so, for St Mary, it could mean that God is inclined towards her, that God sees her in a special light. But moreover, that she could have grace in His eyes.
Listening to these words, how can a human being have grace in the eyes of God? How can a human being, in the face of God, be said to have grace? How can God look down and say that person is special? For God, this is actually the same thing as saying “I see myself in you.” Can you imagine that? Can you imagine God saying to somebody, I see myself in you? Can you imagine the greatest human being… the president, the pope, saying “you know what, you, I see myself in you.” They’re words that are incredibly beautiful, because in saying that, I see grace in you, God said to St Mary “I see myself in you.”
Look at David’s life, God said to Him, “my heart is like your own heart… my heart is yours.” David after he had sinned, chasing after another woman, committing adultery, getting her pregnant and murdering her husband… after all that atrocities, God said to him “my heart is like your own heart,” because after that sin, he repented in such a way, in the Psalms, unlike any other human being.
In Psalm 51 we read that God only requests one thing from us, a broken spirit and a contrite heart (Psalm 51:17) and I can’t know for certain, but I feel by being favoured by God, by having grace in his eyes, having the heart of God, it is only then, like St Mary, we will attain an astounding level of humility. We become disturbed if we think we’re special, we become disturbed if we receive any glory, we become disturbed if people praise us; not because we pretend we haven’t done something good, not because you’re smart and you pretend you’re not smart, not because you’re rich and you pretend you’re not rich, but because I know that these things are due only to God and the glory likewise is due only to God… and not to me.
St Mary was disturbed by the idea that there might be anything special about her. Her humility in the face of all of this is what makes her highly favoured before God. David, even though he committed grave sins in opposition to St Mary who was pure, his repentance, his broken spirit, was equal before the eyes of God. These two qualities are so favoured by God, two things that make God say about us, “I see myself in you… you have grace in My eyes.” They represent the extremes of those who are precious and favoured in the eyes of God.
We often think that only the saints and those who are perfect are precious in the eyes of God, but if you take two children, one who is perfect and yet humble and the other who is not perfect, who is weak, who makes mistakes, but always struggling, always wants to do the right thing, when they does something wrong, straight away come and says sorry, which of those two are more precious in the eyes of the father or the mother? … they are the same. You know, in actual fact, if you ask many parents, the child that is more deficient and weaker, is somehow the one that is more favoured, in my eyes. What then for God? Let us either be like David or Mary, be pure but be humble. Be disturbed at the things that are working for you, because you know that your talents you are not yours, these are things which God has given to you, and never take that glory unto yourself lest you steal God’s glory from him.