The Handmaid of the Lord

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb
and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called
Son of the Most High, and 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.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month
for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”

Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
(Luke 1:26-38)

Scripture Study

1:26 in the sixth month Occurs six months after Elizabeth conceived (v. 24). a town of Galilee called Nazareth A small agricultural village to the southwest of the Sea of Galilee. Nazareth has been inhabited continuously since the third-century bc.

1:27 a virgin Luke calls Mary a virgin twice in this verse to demonstrate that Jesus’ conception was an act of God (see vv. 34–35; Matt 1:23). betrothed At this time, betrothal represented a permanent relationship nearly equivalent to marriage; breaking off a betrothal required a decision akin to divorce. of the house of David Luke alludes to Isa 11:1–2 to portray Jesus as the shoot and branch of Jesse. This portrays Jesus as the Messiah, from King David’s line. (David was Jesse’s son.)

1:28 The Lord is with you Recalls “Immanuel” (“God with us”) from Isa 7:14, which was already alluded to in Luke 1:27 (compare Matt 1:23).

1:30 Do not be afraid A common heavenly greeting and message of reassurance found throughout the Bible (e.g., vv. 30; 2:10; Judges 6:23; Daniel 10:12; Revelation 1:17).

1:31 Jesus From the Hebrew name Joshua, which means “Yahweh is help (or, salvation)” (see Matthew 1:21).

1:32 Son of the Most High Highlights Jesus’ divinity and royalty (compare Luke 1:35, 76). give him the throne of David Gabriel implies that Jesus will fulfill the Davidic covenant (2 Sam 7:12–13).

1:33 the house of Jacob A common OT phrase referring to Israel (e.g., Exod 19:3; Isa 48:1). his kingdom there will be no end Gabriel again alludes to the Davidic covenant (compare note on Luke 1:32), but this allusion also evokes messianic imagery from Daniel (Dan 7:13-14).

1:34 I have no relations with a man Luke calls Mary a virgin twice in this verse to demonstrate that Jesus’ conception was an act of God (see vv. 34–35; Matt 1:23).

1:35 Son of God This title reflects Jesus’ miraculous conception and, consequently, His divinity.

1:36 in her old age See vv. 7, 18. sixth month See v. 26. who was called barren See v. 7.

1:38 I am the handmaid of the Lord Mary indicates that she is willing to do whatever God requires of her. 

Scripture Reflection

Friends, our Gospel today introduces the most elevated creature: Mary, the Mother of God. The Church Fathers often made a connection between Eve, the mother of all the living, and Mary, the Mother of God and Mother of the Church. In fact, they saw her as “the new Eve,” the one who undid the damage done by Eve.

The angel’s greeting to Mary is important here: “Hail Mary, full of grace.” Mary is greeted as someone who is able to accept gifts. Eve and Adam grasped; Mary is ready to receive. And Mary’s reply is also significant: “How is this possible, for I do not know man?” There is nothing cowed about Mary.

The angel explains to Mary: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you…” At the heart of the spiritual life is the conviction that your life is not about you. The real spiritual life is about allowing oneself to be overwhelmed by the one who loves us. Mary is someone who is ready for the impossible, and this makes her the paradigm of discipleship. “Let it be done to me according to thy word.” That’s an acquiescence to adventure.

– Bishop Robert Barron

May the virtues of faith, hope, and love go with you today – DV.