A Royal Son

Scripture Reading

O God, with your judgment endow the king,
and with your justice, the king’s son;
He shall govern your people with justice
and your afflicted ones with judgment. 

The mountains shall yield peace for the people,
and the hills justice.
He shall defend the afflicted among the people,
save the children of the poor.

Justice shall flower in his days,
and profound peace, till the moon be no more.
May he rule from sea to sea,
and from the River to the ends of the earth.

May his name be blessed forever;
as long as the sun his name shall remain.
In him shall all the tribes of the earth be blessed;
all the nations shall proclaim his happiness.
(Psalm 72:1-2,3-4, 7-8,17)

 

Scripture Study

72:1. “Justice” or “righteousness” is an attribute connected with the saving power of God (cf. Ps 9:4, 7; 19:9; etc.). Use is made of expressions “king” and “royal son”, which mean the same thing, to underline the principle of dynastic legitimacy.
72:2–4. The king shares in God’s saving power, which comes from on high (v. 3; cf. Is 45:8; 55:12), when he cries out in defense of the poor (vv. 3–4).
72:5–8. A reign as good as the one described here should last forever; it falls like rain to make the earth fruitful. Its fruits are righteousness (v. 7; cf. Hos 6:3). Instead of “may he live” (v. 5), which is how the Septuagint translates it, the Hebrew text says “may they fear thee”; the Greek text has made the correction to improve the sense. The desires expressed about the extent of the kingdom are in line with the boundaries mentioned in the promises (cf. Zech 9:10; Sir 44:22)—from the Red Sea to the Mediterranean, and from the Euphrates to the ends of the earth (cf. Gen 15:18).
72:15–17. These acclamations serve to round off the prayer for the king, desiring that he should continue to be prayed for (v. 15), that the country should have good things in plenty during his reign (v. 16) and that he himself would be praised the world over (v. 17; cf. Gen 12:3).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Psalm 72 is a prayer for the anointed king asking that God bring about his rule on earth through the reign of the king. It looks and hopes for a new era created by God through the person of the king. But Christians have always known that they can pray this psalm in its fullness only for the heir of David who was Jesus of Nazareth.

Through him the God of the universe has already bestowed righteousness, peace, and victory upon those who find in him the nearness of the reign of God. For them, the prayer is a form of petition for the consummation of the kingdom of God. The conclusion of the psalm turns its attention to the One who alone does marvelous things. It reminds the reader that it is the God of Israel who alone will be forever praised and whose glory will fill the whole earth.

– James L. Mays

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

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 246–248.

From the Father

Scripture Reading
Jesus said to the Jews:
“You sent emissaries to John, and he testified to the truth. 
I do not accept testimony from a human being,
but I say this so that you may be saved. 
John was a burning and shining lamp,
and for a while you were content to rejoice in his light. 
But I have testimony greater than John’s. 
The works that the Father gave me to accomplish,
these works that I perform testify on my behalf
that the Father has sent me.”
(John 5:33-36)

Scripture Study

John the Baptist bore witness that Jesus was the Son of God (1:34). Although Jesus had no need to have recourse to any man’s testimony, not even that of a great prophet, John’s testimony was given for the sake of the Jews, that they might recognize the Messiah. Jesus can also point to another testimony, better than that of the Baptist—the miracles he has worked, which are, for anyone who examines them honestly, unmistakable signs of his divine power, which comes from the Father; Jesus’ miracles, then, are a form of witness the Father bears concerning his Son, whom he has sent into the world.

Jewish legal tradition required two or three witnesses to sustain a claim in court (Deut 19:15). Jesus has a list of witnesses beyond the required number: (1) John the Baptist (5:33), (2) his miracles (5:36), (3) the Father (5:37), (4) the Scriptures (5:39), (5) and Moses (5:46) all bear witness to his divine authority and mission.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today’s Gospel Jesus says that his Father’s works testify to his identity. Jesus’ words are the Father’s words and his deeds are the Father’s deeds. His story is the Father’s story.

Nature speaks of God, the philosophers say true things about God, the arts can reflect him, lives of the saints can indicate him—but Jesus is the icon.

We sense in this passage, if I can put it this way, the humility of the Logos: “The words that I speak to you I do not speak on my own. The Father who dwells in me is doing his works.” Neither the words nor the deeds of Jesus are “his own.” They are received from the Father. The Trinitarian theological tradition respects this when it speaks of the Son as the interior word of the Father and as having received everything from the Father.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 172.

I Will Praise You Lord

Scripture Reading

I will extol you, O LORD, for you drew me clear
and did not let my enemies rejoice over me.
O LORD, you brought me up from the nether world;
you preserved me from among those going down into the pit.

Sing praise to the LORD, you his faithful ones,
and give thanks to his holy name.
For his anger lasts but a moment;
a lifetime, his good will.
At nightfall, weeping enters in,
but with the dawn, rejoicing.

“Hear, O LORD, and have pity on me;
O LORD, be my helper.”
You changed my mourning into dancing;
O LORD, my God, forever will I give you thanks.
(Psalm 30:2, 4, 5-6, 11-12, 13)

Scripture Study

30:1–3. The entire canticle reflects a thanksgiving liturgy in the temple after recovery from an illness that threatened the psalmist’s life.

30:4–5. The range of focus of the previous verses is extended by noticing how God acts: his “favor” far exceeds his “anger” (v. 5; cf. Is 54:7–8).

30:6–10. Divine anger really consists in his “hiding his face”, leaving man on his own (v. 7) when he thinks he can fend for himself (v. 6). The psalmist himself experienced this, but he reacted in time and had recourse to God (vv. 8–10) and put this argument to him—that his death would serve no purpose because if he were to die he could not praise him. Life only makes sense because he can praise the Lord, the source of all good. “If life didn’t have as its aim to give glory to God, it would be detestable—even more, loathsome” (St J. Escrivá, The Way, 783).

30:11–12. “Dancing” and being attired “with goodness”, as against mourning and penance, are external expressions, probably in a liturgical context, of the joy that accompanies praise; a joy that wells up inside “my soul” (literally “glory”, perhaps in the sense of physical health) and then is voiced (v. 12).

In Christian liturgy this psalm is said in the Easter Vigil, after the reading of Isaiah 54:5–14, which proclaims the consolation and rescue of Jerusalem after God had momentarily abandoned it. In this context the psalm reveals its prophetic meaning, insofar as it proclaims what God did when he raised Jesus Christ after he tasted death.[1]

Scripture Reflection

The psalmist’s earlier untroubled life is attributed to the royal pleasure of God. His distress comes when the LORD hides his face. His restoration is a change worked by the LORD. He sees his previous attitude as a mistaken reading of God’s favor, for he said in his self-confidence what should be said only in complete dependence on God: “I shall never be moved.”  Now he sees his life as a vocation of thanksgiving to the LORD. Correlating the course of life so directly with the sovereignty of God is, of course, risky. All sorts of distortions and misreadings are possible. But there is a strong faith in the providence of God here. Prayer and praise, if they are to be authentic and vigorous, must have actual life as their subject and not hover carefully in generalities above the earth. Life must be experienced in relation to God, sought and received as from the LORD’s hand.

– James Mays

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

 

 

[1] James Gavigan, Brian McCarthy, and Thomas McGovern, eds., Psalms and the Song of Solomon, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2003), 116–117.

Attachments

Scripture Reading

At that time,
John summoned two of his disciples and sent them to the Lord to ask,
“Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?” 
When the men came to the Lord, they said,
“John the Baptist has sent us to you to ask,
‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’”
At that time Jesus cured many of their diseases, sufferings, and evil spirits;
he also granted sight to many who were blind. 
And Jesus said to them in reply,
“Go and tell John what you have seen and heard:
the blind regain their sight,
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed,
the deaf hear, the dead are raised,
the poor have the good news proclaimed to them. 
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”
(Luke 7:18-23)

Scripture Study

In answer to John’s question, Are you the one who is to come?—a probable reference to the return of the fiery prophet of reform, Elijah, “before the day of the Lord comes, the great and terrible day” (Mal 3:19)—Jesus responds that his role is rather to bring the blessings spoken of in Is 61:1 to the oppressed and neglected of society (Lk 7:22; cf. Lk 4:18).

Blessed is the one who takes no offense at me: this beatitude is pronounced on the person who recognizes Jesus’ true identity in spite of previous expectations of what “the one who is to come” would be like.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today we celebrate the feast of St. John of the Cross, the great 16th-century teacher on spirituality and a Doctor of the Church. John famously said that the soul is like a pane of glass. When it is clean and clear, the light of God shines through it, but when it is smudged with attachments, it blocks the divine light.

What did he mean by attachments? Attachments are anything in this world, including your own life, that you are convinced you cannot live without. Money, fame, power, privilege, the esteem of others, material things, your own survival—any of these become attachments when we cling to them in order to protect or foster our egos. They become our masters and we become their prisoners.

So what do we do? How do we move from attachment to freedom? We have to realize that everything is a gift. Your being, your life, your body, your powers of mind and will and imagination, your accomplishments—all of it is a gift from a gracious God. When we realize this, we know that nothing is owed us; we have no great status to defend. Then we can live in gratitude.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

 

[1] Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 1450.

Change Your Mind – Change Your Behavior

Scripture Reading

Jesus said to the chief priests and the elders of the people:
“What is your opinion? 
A man had two sons. 
He came to the first and said,
‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ 
The son said in reply, ‘I will not,’
but afterwards he changed his mind and went. 
The man came to the other son and gave the same order. 
He said in reply, ‘Yes, sir,’ but did not go. 
Which of the two did his father’s will?” 
They answered, “The first.” 
Jesus said to them, “Amen, I say to you,
tax collectors and prostitutes
are entering the Kingdom of God before you. 
When John came to you in the way of righteousness,
you did not believe him;
but tax collectors and prostitutes did. 
Yet even when you saw that,
you did not later change your minds and believe him.”
(Matthew 21:28-32)

 

Scripture Study

21:28–32 The parable of the Two Sons explains the preceding question about John the Baptist’s authority (21:25). The sons (21:28) represent two groups of people: the first are sinners who repent at the preaching of John (21:32); the second are Israel’s leaders, who refuse the Baptist’s message, even when tax collectors and harlots (21:32) respond to him (Lk 7:29–30). By following John’s way of righteousness (21:32), the former sinners do the will of the father (21:31).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Friends, today’s Gospel highlights the repentance of a son who changed his mind and obeyed his father. This is the way of Jesus. He wants a total renovation of our lives. He wants us to get to the roots of our sin and dysfunction, addressing not just the symptoms, but the deep causes.

Perhaps your relational life or sexual life are dysfunctional. Jesus wants to root out the problem and not just change the behavior. Perhaps, your professional life has become tainted by sin: Jesus wants to cut to the roots of it, in your pride or your fear or your ambition. Perhaps there is a pattern of violence in your behavior: Christ wants to get to the envy or the greed that lies behind it. Change your heart and turn to God.

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 45.

Our Lady

Scripture Reading

God’s temple in heaven was opened,
and the ark of his covenant could be seen in the temple.

A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet,
and on her head a crown of twelve stars.
She was with child and wailed aloud in pain as she labored to give birth.
Then another sign appeared in the sky;
it was a huge red dragon, with seven heads and ten horns,
and on its heads were seven diadems.
Its tail swept away a third of the stars in the sky
and hurled them down to the earth.
Then the dragon stood before the woman about to give birth,
to devour her child when she gave birth. 
She gave birth to a son, a male child,
destined to rule all the nations with an iron rod.
Her child was caught up to God and his throne.
The woman herself fled into the desert
where she had a place prepared by God.

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say:
“Now have salvation and power come,
and the Kingdom of our God
and the authority of his Anointed.”
(Revelation 11:19; 12:1-6, 10)

Scripture Study

11:19 ark of his covenant: The throne of God in the heavenly temple. From its base issue divine judgments symbolized by violent thunderstorms and earthquakes (4:5; 16:17–18).

12:1–6 The woman of Revelation 12 is both an individual person and a collective symbol. She is Mary, the Mother of the Messiah and the spiritual mother of his disciples (Jn 19:26–27). But she also represents the faithful of Israel, crying out for the Messiah (Rev 12:2), as well as the Church, attacked by the devil for witnessing to Jesus (12:17) (CCC 501, 507, 1138). Jer 13:18) (CCC 489). The vision speaks of the Mother of our Savior, depicting her in heaven, not on earth, as pure in body and soul, as equal to an angel, as one of heaven’s citizens, as one who brought about the Incarnation of God. She has nothing in common with this world and its evils but is exalted and worthy of heaven, despite her descent from our mortal nature (Oecumenius, Commentary on the Apocalypse 6, 19).

12:10 Now the salvation: Heaven celebrates the expulsion of the devil and his angels. This is not the fall of the angels at the dawn of time (12:4), but the defeat of evil at the turning point of salvation history, when Christ mounted the Cross and cast out the ruler of this world (Jn 12:31–32; Col 2:15).[1]

Scripture Reflection

On a symbolic level, the early Church identified itself with the heavenly Queen. It also identified the mother of Jesus as the heavenly Queen. After all, Mary was the first believer in the Good News. So, she was the first member of the Church. As the proto-member, she represents all who followed her, as disciples of her Son. If the Church saw itself in the cosmic struggle with the Evil One to make the Messiah present to the world, it could also see its first member in that role. It is no wonder that, by the time Constantine freed the Church from persecution, believers pictured Mary as the Queen. What a wonderful example of discipleship we celebrate today with the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe.

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

 

 

[1] The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 506–507.

Prepare The Way

Scripture Reading

When John the Baptist heard in prison of the works of the Christ, 
he sent his disciples to Jesus with this question, 
“Are you the one who is to come,
or should we look for another?”
Jesus said to them in reply, 
“Go and tell John what you hear and see: 
the blind regain their sight, 
the lame walk,
lepers are cleansed, 
the deaf hear,
the dead are raised,
and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them.
And blessed is the one who takes no offense at me.”

As they were going off,
Jesus began to speak to the crowds about John, 
“What did you go out to the desert to see?
A reed swayed by the wind?
Then what did you go out to see?
Someone dressed in fine clothing?
Those who wear fine clothing are in royal palaces.
Then why did you go out? To see a prophet?
Yes, I tell you, and more than a prophet.
This is the one about whom it is written:
Behold, I am sending my messenger ahead of you;
he will prepare your way before you.

Amen, I say to you,
among those born of women 
there has been none greater than John the Baptist; 
yet the least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.”
(Matthew 11:2-11)

Scripture Study

11:2. John knew that Jesus was the Messiah (cf. Mt 3:13–17). He sent his disciples to him so that they could shed their mistaken notions about the kind of Messiah to expect, and come to recognize Jesus.

11:3–6. Jesus replies to the Baptist’s disciples by pointing to the fact that they are witnessing the signs that the ancient prophecies said would mark the advent of the Messiah and his Kingdom (cf. Is 35:5, 61:1; etc.). He says, in effect, that he is the prophet who “was to come”. The miracles reported in the Gospel (chaps. 8–9) and the teaching given to the people (chaps. 5–7) prove that Jesus of Nazareth is the expected Messiah.

11:6. Jesus here corrects the mistaken idea which many Jews had of the Messiah, casting him in the role of a powerful earthly ruler—a far cry from the humble attitude of Jesus. It is not surprising that he was a stumbling block to Jews (cf. Is 8:14–15; 1 Cor 1:23).

11:11. With John the Old Testament is brought to a close and we are on the threshold of the New. The Precursor had the honor of ushering Christ in, making him known to men. God had assigned him the exalted mission of preparing his contemporaries to hear the Gospel. The Baptist’s faithfulness is recognized and proclaimed by Jesus. The praise he receives is a reward for his humility: John, realizing what his role was, had said, “He must increase, but I must decrease” (Jn 3:30).

St John the Baptist was the greatest in the sense that he had received a mission unique and incomparable in the context of the Old Testament. However, in the Kingdom of heaven (the New Testament) inaugurated by Christ, the divine gift of grace makes the least of those who faithfully receive it greater than the greatest in the earlier dispensation. Once the work of our redemption is accomplished, God’s grace will also be extended to the just of the Old Alliance. Thus, the greatness of John the Baptist, the Precursor and the last of the prophets, will be enhanced by the dignity of being made a son of God.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today’s Gospel presents John the Baptist as the messenger preparing the way for Jesus. John speaks: “Make ready the way of the Lord, clear him a straight path…” He is saying that his job is to prepare for the mighty coming of the Lord. He is to build the highway that will facilitate his arrival. A change is coming, a revolution is on the way, a disaster (the destruction of the old) is about to happen. Prepare the way of the Lord.

And what is the manner of preparation? It is a baptism of repentance. Baptism—an immersion in water—reminded first century Jews of the exodus, passing through the Red Sea, leaving the ways of slavery behind. God would humble the powers of their time as he once humbled Egypt and Babylon.

And repentance? It simply means going beyond the mind that you have. How our minds are conditioned by the fallen world! How our expectations are shaped, stunted by what has gone before. It’s time, John is saying, for a new mind, a new set of eyes, a new kind of expectation. God is about to act. Be ready!

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

 

 

[1] Saint Matthew’s Gospel, The Navarre Bible (Dublin; New York: Four Courts Press; Scepter Publishers, 2005), 91–92.

Spiritual Restoration

Scripture Reading

As they were coming down from the mountain,
the disciples asked Jesus,
“Why do the scribes say that Elijah must come first?”
He said in reply, “Elijah will indeed come and restore all things;
but I tell you that Elijah has already come,
and they did not recognize him but did to him whatever they pleased. 
So also will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.”
Then the disciples understood
that he was speaking to them of John the Baptist.
(Matthew 17:9-13)

Scripture Study

17:9 Jesus’ coming down from the mountain with his disciples continues the Sinai parallels, recalling Moses who came down the mountain (Exod 34:29).

17:10–13 In popular belief and scribal teaching Elijah was expected to return in some sense in the last days and prepare the way for the Lord (Mal 3:23–24; Sir 48:10). Since Peter, James, and John just saw Elijah speaking with Jesus, they wonder if that expectation has now been fulfilled. Jesus agrees with the popular belief, saying Elijah will indeed come and restore all things, a reference to Elijah’s ministry of preparing the people for the Lord by calling them to repentance and mending kinship relationships wounded by sin (Mal 3:23–24). However, Jesus adds the contrasting phrase, but I tell you. As in 5:22, these words denote a contrast in which Christ offers something in addition to what was taught previously. While Jesus endorses the scribal expectation of Elijah’s return, he adds that Elijah has already come. In other words, the scribes and many others in Israel were right to look for Elijah’s return but, unfortunately, they have missed his coming. The great eschatological reappearance of Elijah has already taken place in the person and ministry of John the Baptist (11:14; 17:13; see 3:4). Like Elijah, John was a great prophet who called the people to repentance and was persecuted by a wicked king (see 14:3–12).

Jesus uses this discussion about the suffering of the new Elijah, that is, John the Baptist, to return to the theme of his own suffering (see 16:21). Just as the new Elijah was opposed by many in Israel, so will the Son of Man suffer at their hands.[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today’s Gospel passage identifies the appearance of John the Baptist with the expected return of the prophet Elijah. John, the herald of Christ, appears in the desert. Here he stands for all of us in the desert of sin, the lifeless place. It is as though John purposely went there to remind us of our need for grace.

What is he proclaiming? A baptism of repentance. This is the great message. Turn your life over to a higher power. People are coming to him from all sides, because, in our heart of hearts we all resonate with this message.

So often in the Old Testament, the prophets are asked to act out some quality of the people, perhaps something they were unable or unwilling to see. Well, this tradition continues here: John acts out for the people their helplessness and neediness before the Lord. But then like Isaiah, he refuses to leave it at that. He announces that one is coming, one who will baptize in the Holy Spirit. 

– Bishop Robert Barron

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

 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch and Edward Sri, The Gospel of Matthew, Catholic Commentary on Sacred Scripture (Grand Rapids, MI: Baker Academic, 2010), 219–220.

The Light of Life

Scripture Reading

Blessed the man who follows not
the counsel of the wicked
Nor walks in the way of sinners,
nor sits in the company of the insolent,
But delights in the law of the LORD
and meditates on his law day and night.

He is like a tree
planted near running water,
That yields its fruit in due season,
and whose leaves never fade.
Whatever he does, prospers.

Not so the wicked, not so;
they are like chaff which the wind drives away.
For the LORD watches over the way of the just,
but the way of the wicked vanishes.
(Psalm 1:1-2, 3-4, 6)

 

Scripture Study

1:1 The way: a common biblical term for manner of living or moral conduct (Ps 32:8; 101:2, 6; Prv 2:20; 1 Kgs 8:36).

1:2 The law of the Lord: either the Torah, the first five books of the Bible, or, more probably, divine teaching or instruction.

1:4 The wicked: those who by their actions distance themselves from God’s life-giving presence.[1]

Scripture Reflection

This first psalm expresses the feeling of a man who is lifting his eyes to the entire state of the world and considering how some do well, while others fail. It teaches that life is a journey through time; living chooses a particular route for existence. It uses the great biblical metaphor of the “way,” a road or path that one follows.

Within all the individuality that our lives express, there are ultimately only two ways for the journey to take, the way of the righteous and the way of the wicked. The first way leads to the fulfillment of life through the connection of the believer to the ways of the Lord. The second way is really an illusion, as it has no more substance than chaff that the wind drives away.

The question to ponder in this season of Advent is, “What path have you taken?” It is never too late to change your path and destination. You just need to make a different choice of what true fulfillment is all about.  

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

 

 

 

[1] Donald Senior, John J. Collins, and Mary Ann Getty, eds., The Catholic Study Bible, 2nd Ed.: Notes, 2nd ed., vol. 2 (New York: Oxford University Press, 2011), 728-729.

Let It Be Done

Scripture Reading

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

1:28 Hail: Or “Rejoice!” It crowns the theme of joy and gladness that punctuates Luke’s Infancy Narrative (1:14, 44, 47, 58; 2:10, 20). ● The call to rejoice echoes OT passages that address Daughter Zion. In the prophets this refers to Mother Jerusalem, whose faithful children will rejoice in the messianic age because God has chosen to dwell in their midst (Joel 2:23–24; Zeph 3:14–17; Zech 9:9). Mary, chosen to be the virgin mother of the Messiah, is greeted with the same summons because she is the embodiment of faithful Israel and the most privileged recipient of Yahweh’s messianic blessings. full of grace: This is the only biblical instance where an angel addresses someone by a title instead of a personal name. 

1:31 Jesus: A Hebrew name meaning “Yahweh saves” (CCC 430). See note on Mt 1:21.

1:32–33 Jesus is the awaited Messiah from David’s dynastic line (2 Sam 7:12–16; Ps 89:26–29; 132:11; Is 9:6–7). Following Jewish custom, Joseph’s legal fatherhood was equivalent to natural fatherhood in matters of inheritance. Joseph thus confers the privileges of a Davidic descendant upon Jesus (1:27),whereas God the Father anoints him as king (Mk 16:19) (CCC 437).

1:33 the house of Jacob: i.e., the kingdom of Israel. 

1:34 How can this be: Or, better, “How will this be …?” Mary is not questioning God’s ability to give her a son, but she is inquiring as to how such a plan will unfold. I have no husband: The Greek text literally reads “I do not know man”, which refers to Mary’s virginal status rather than her marital status. 

1:35 overshadow you: The conception of Jesus within the womb of Mary will be entirely supernatural, i.e., the result of God’s creative work within her (Mt 1:18–25; CCC 497, 723). Gabriel mentions the Holy Spirit, the Most High, and the Son of God, offering Mary a glimpse of the Trinity

1:37 nothing will be impossible: Gabriel’s reassurance casts its light over the entirety of Lk 1. He insists that God can surmount every obstacle to motherhood, including the infertility of Elizabeth and the virginity of Mary (CCC 269, 273). The statement carries overtones of the OT, especially Gen 18:14 and Jer 32:17.

1:38 let it be to me: Mary freely and actively embraces God’s invitation to bear the Messiah. The Greek expression denotes more than mere passive acceptance, indicating that she wishes or desires to fulfill God’s will in her life. Unlike Zechariah, she welcomes the angel’s words uninhibited by doubt (CCC 148, 494, 2617).[1]

Scripture Reflection

Today we celebrate the feast of the Immaculate Conception. The Church Fathers consistently referred to Mary as the new Eve, which is to say, the one who reversed the momentum started by the mother of the human race. The Ave of the angel was seen as the reversal of Eva. While Eve grasped at divinity, Mary said “Let it be done unto me.”

Here’s the liberating paradox: passivity before objective values is precisely what makes life wonderful. Allowing oneself to be invaded and rearranged by objective value is what makes life worth living. And this applies unsurpassably to our relationship with God. The message that your life is not about you does indeed crush the false self that would bend the whole world to its purposes, but it sets free the true self.

The Immaculate Conception itself is concealed in the privacy of salvation history, but the effects of it are on clear display in this Gospel. In the presence of the supreme value, we ought to say, along with Mary, “Be it done unto me!”

– Bishop Robert Barron

 

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

 

 

 

[1] Curtis Mitch, “Introduction to the Gospels,” in The Ignatius Catholic Study Bible: The New Testament (San Francisco: Ignatius Press, 2010), 105.