“For the Mighty One has done great things for me.’”

Mary’s Magnificat, Luke 1:49 (NRSV)

A True Virgin

Perhaps Mary and Elizabeth sat together at some point and remembered all the women throughout the scriptures in whom God had miraculously quickened life. There were, of course, the matriarchs Sarah, Rebekah, and Rachel. There was also Manoah’s wife the mother of Samson, Hannah, a woman from Shunem, and now Mary and Elizabeth. Each account gave testimony to the supernatural strength of the Lord.   

But Mary’s narrative alone bore witness to the wonder-working creative power of God to bring forth something out of nothing, for the Spirt of God would overshadow Mary and within her would form the unique Son of God.

But would people understand this mystery?

Matthew’s testimony is careful to explain it. The apostle first quoted the prophet Isaiah’s oracle, “Look, the virgin shall become pregnant and give birth to a son.” In the original Hebrew, Isaiah had used a word that meant “young woman,” meaning usually unmarried and presumably a virgin. However, עַלְמָה |ʿalmâ could also refer to a newly married young woman.

But in the Septuagint, the 2,300-year-old Greek translation of the Hebrew scriptures, the ancient translators chose the word παρθένος | parthenos, which only means “virgin.” Matthew quoted from the Septuagint.

“And,” Matthew continued, “Joseph had no marital relations with her until she had given birth to a son.”

Christmas Carol

God from true God, and
Light from Light eternal,
born of a virgin, to earth he comes!
Only-begotten Son of God the Father:

O come, let us adore him,
Christ the Lord!

“O Come, All Ye Faithful” John Francis Wade (1841)


Lord, You are the Mighty One, Whose creative power brought forth the universe as we know it, something out of nothing. Yet the wonderful mystery of Your infinite and eternal Being becoming the only-begotten Son of God overwhelms us with awe. To You belongs all glory, honor, wisdom, power, and praise.

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son.

Matthew’s Testimony, Matthew 1:23 (NRSV)
RO VL Barbatesti St Nicholas church | By Țetcu Mircea Rareș, CC BY-SA 2.5

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