The Virgin Mary, the mother of the Messiah

The Virgin Mary, the mother of the Messiah

24th December

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.” (Luke 1:31-32)

As we reach Christmas Eve, we now turn to the story of the Annunciation, where the angel Gabriel visited the Virgin Mary, to share the news that she was expecting the long-awaited Christ Child. St Paul tells us that “when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman” (Galatians 4:4). The prophets had long spoken of the coming of Christ – and that time had now come.

We read in St Luke’s gospel how the angel Gabriel went to Nazareth to speak to the Virgin about her pregnancy (Luke 1:26-38). He said: “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David.” (Luke 1:31-32)

We know that St Joseph was descended from King David. But was Mary too? Some scholars believe that that St Luke listed the Virgin’s ancestry to King David in Luke 3:23-38, but we can’t be sure about that. What we do know is that Christ was not just legally descended from King David, but physically too, which means that she also must have been of the House of David (Romans 1:3).

Indeed, the mother of the Messiah had been foretold throughout the Old Testament. Rewinding to Genesis, we read how a woman and her son would defeat the Devil (Genesis 3:15). Isaiah said that a virgin would conceive and bear a son (Isaiah 7:14). And the prophet Micah spoke of the time when “she who is in labor” would give birth to a royal son in Bethlehem (Micah 5:2).

This stained glass scene of the Annunciation is found within the sanctuary of St Raphael’s, Kingston. Created by an unknown French or Italian artist in 1848, it sits alongside two other biblical scenes featuring angels. The image shows Gabriel appearing to the Virgin, as she raises her hands in prayer. Like in the image we saw of St Joseph, at her side is a lily, the symbol of purity.

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