… For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden … – Luke 1:46 -50 and 54 -55

*   *   *

Rather than seeing Mary as submissive and mild, the way she typically appears in lawn statuary, I sense in her reaction much more of a revolutionary or radical. She may be of humble origins (and, unlike her husband-to-be, we get no genealogy), yet she makes no apologies for her “low estate.”

Indeed, in declaring herself a “handmaiden,” she evokes Hagar, who becomes Abraham’s mistress and mother of what would become the Islamic people, rather than his wife, Sarah, the mother of the Jewish people. Handmaid also invokes Zilpah and Bilhah, the servants who become pregnant by Jacob.

Mary, then, knows the tradition.

*   *   *

This is he, who when he was on Earth, yielded both active and passive Obedience to his Heavenly Father in Life, Doctrine and Death; which I firmly do believe, was a Sacrifice acceptable unto God for the Sins of Men, by believing in whom, and yielding Obedience to him, Pardon and Remission of Sins comes to be known. (Elizabeth Bathurst, 1655?-1685)

 

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