The bible blog follows the daily bible readings of the Catholic Church.
Gospel, Luke 1:26-38
26 In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth,
27 to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
28 He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you.’
29 She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean,
30 but the angel said to her, ‘Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour.
31 Look! You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus.
32 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;
33 he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.’
34 Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?’
35 The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.
36 And I tell you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month,
37 for nothing is impossible to God.’
38 Mary said, ‘You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.’ And the angel left her.
Reading 2, Hebrews 10:4-10
4 Bulls’ blood and goats’ blood are incapable of taking away sins,
5 and that is why He said, on coming into the world: You wanted no sacrifice or cereal offering, but you gave me a body.
6 You took no pleasure in burnt offering or sacrifice for sin;
7 then I said, ‘Here I am, I am coming,’ in the scroll of the book it is written of me, to do your will, God.
8 He says first, You did not want what the Law lays down as the things to be offered, that is: the sacrifices, the cereal offerings, the burnt offerings and the sacrifices for sin, and you took no pleasure in them;
9 and then he says: Here I am! I am coming to do your will. He is abolishing the first sort to establish the second.
10 And this will was for us to be made holy by the offering of his body made once and for all, by Jesus Christ.
In the midst of Lent, we are suddenly in Advent with the Feast of the Annunciation, the angel’s message to Mary. If we are ever tempted to think of our Lenten testing as primarily spiritual, we are reminded of the corporal dimension of both our salvation and our discipleship, by today’s readings.
God has come to save his people, but he needs Mary to give herself, body, soul and spirit, to his project. If God’s child is to be a human person, he needs a human mother, within whom he will take shape, from whom he will be born.
She is told that another part of God’s plan is being fulfilled in the pregnancy of her cousin Elizabeth. Clearly God intends his salvation to be embodied, not merely announced.
The complex passage from Hebrews, which quotes from Psalm 39, putting it in the mouth of Jesus, compares the old forms of expiatory sacrifice with the sacrifice of Jesus.
The priest offered sacrifices of animals as symbols of the rededication of the worshipper to God. Jesus offered his body, his whole self on the cross, on behalf of his human bothers and sisters, in fulfilment of God’s gracious will. Through him, now and for all time, human beings can offer themselves to God. But that offering must include the bodily, material, dimension of our lives, not just what we call spiritual.