Gabriel reviewed the file again. Right. Simple mission: find a willing human to birth the messiah. The ‘willing’ part was apparently very important to the Almighty, so Gabriel had been given a list of backups, just in case— but there’d be no need for any of that if option one said yes.  Option one, here, being a girl named Maryam, of the line of David, from Nazareth, Galilee, engaged to a carpenter named Youssef. Fourteen years old. Hm. Gabriel could have sworn the usual age of human reproductive maturity was supposed to be at least a little more than that. Well, couldn’t argue with the Plan. 
Gabriel prepared to manifest. Three, two, one…
One moment, Maryam  was in her father’s house, mending a garment.
The next moment, there was a being in front of her. A being that was indescribable in human language; that could strike madness into the heart of the bravest man on earth with merely a look. There was only one appropriate response.
As Maryam screamed uncontrollably, the being began to speak— in an incongruously human voice, and in perfect Aramaic, though the accent was nothing Maryam had ever heard.  “It’s Maryam, right? Okay. Greetings, lucky human! The Lord is with you!”
The human was screaming. Why was the human screaming? Gabriel did a quick miracle so her parents in the other room wouldn’t hear and complicate things, then tried to calm her. He couldn’t very well drop the give-birth-to-the-messiah bomb while she was like this. “Do not be afraid, Maryam— please, stop screaming; I’m trying to tell you something! You’ve found favour with God!”
…Gabriel suddenly realised that he’d forgotten to switch to the human-friendly form. Oh, that explains it. He should probably fix that.
Suddenly, instead of the incomprehensible being, there was… a man, holding a scroll. A weirdly pale, tall man, with purple eyes, in an impossibly white robe… but, the general shape of a man, nonetheless.
Maryam was able to stop screaming.
“There. Now I’m in a form that your feeble human mind can comprehend, I have a message for you.” His face formed an expression that looked as if somebody had once described a smile to him, and he was attempting to follow the directions. “Good news! You, Maryam, have found favour with God!”
The human’s condition seemed to have improved, but she was still staring at Gabriel incredulously. Gabriel double-checked the details of his current form. Two arms, two legs, one torso, one human-like head (two eyes, two ears, one mouth, one nose), no wings, clothing… those were the correct settings for productively communicating with the more easily frightened of humans, if Gabriel remembered correctly.  He’d even tried his best human smile. Maybe she was in shock from the moment with Gabriel’s true form; Gabriel had heard about shock. Oh, well, it was better than screaming, at least. Gabriel continued. “I’m an angel of God— specifically, the Archangel Gabriel. And I have the opportunity of a lifetime for you, Maryam! If all goes to Plan,” Gabriel explained, audibly capitalising the P,  “you will give birth to a son, and name him Yeshua.”  Gabriel checked the script; he had to get the pitch right… “He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord God— that’s my boss— will give him the throne of his ancestor David, and he will reign over Jacob’s descendants forever; his kingdom will never end.” Gabriel smiled again. “So, sound good to you?”
The human was dumbfounded for a moment. Gabriel waited patiently, expecting to get either a ‘yes, absolutely’, or a ‘no, ask someone else’. Instead, he got, “But— but— how can this be? You say I will have a son, but— I am a virgin.”
Oh. Right. Gabriel had only the vaguest idea of how human reproduction was usually supposed to work, but he could work out from context that Maryam was confused about the messiah having no human father. “Well, that’s not really my department, Maryam, but… to the best of my knowledge, what’s going to happen is… the Holy Spirit will come to you, and… bam, pregnant.” Maryam was still staring at him, so he brought up an example. “You know your cousin Elisheba? Everyone thought she was too old to have kids, right? Well, surprise— she’s six months pregnant! Go visit to check if you want— not to brag, but I was the messenger for that one too. Anyway, that’s all to say that God can do anything. So, what do you say to being the mother of the Son of God? As I said, opportunity of a lifetime.”
There was silence. Then, Maryam took a deep breath, and nodded. “Yes. I am the Lord’s servant. May your word to me be fulfilled.”
The checkbox for the mother’s consent on Gabriel’s scroll lit up. Gabriel nodded. “Great. Pleasure doing business with you.”
Gabriel was about to go back to Heaven, but then, Maryam spoke again. “Wait— what will I tell Youssef? He is a law-abiding man; if he learns that I am with child, he will not marry me.”
“Oh. That.” Gabriel had forgotten how silly humans could be. “Don’t worry about it. If he starts considering that, I’ll just, ah, get the Almighty’s permission to manifest again, visit Youssef, and tell him the kid’s from God.  Alright. Is that all, now?”
She hesitated, but then nodded. With that, Gabriel went back to Heaven. It was to be done.
1Which, it should be noted, Gabriel was sure would happen— Great Plan and all.[return to text]
2Plus, it wasn’t like he knew much about humans anyway.[return to text]
3Known by future worshippers of her future son by a million translations of that name, as well as such epithets as Madonna and Mother of God. Currently known by Gabriel as option one.[return to text]
4If she had really tried to focus on it, she might have realised that it wasn’t proper Aramaic at all— in fact, it was more like… the sentiment was being transmitted directly to her soul, and translated into a language she could understand. But, then again, she wasn’t exactly in a state to focus on it, given, you know, the uncontrollable screaming.[return to text]
5Some versions of the guidebook said ‘two wings’, but Gabriel could never really remember which two to keep, so he went with the versions which said none.[return to text]
6He never could resist a good pun. Or even a mediocre one. It didn’t really cross his mind to determine whether it would carry into the human’s language.[return to text]
7Known by his future worshippers by a million translations of that name, as well as such epithets as Christ and Lord and Saviour.[return to text]
8It should be noted that Matthew’s telling of that event glossed over Gabriel’s missteps much the same as Luke’s telling of this event.[return to text]