Second Reading: Galatians 4:4-7

Conceived by the Holy Spirit,
Born of the Virgin Mary

How much influence did your parents have on you? What values did you learn from your mother?

Popular Translation

4 When the time was right, God sent his Son into the world. He was born of a woman and he was born under the Jewish Law, 5 so he could save those condemned by the Law. Now we can receive adoption as God’s sons and daughters. 6 Because we are his children, God sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts; the Spirit makes us shout, “Abba, Father!” 7 You aren’t slaves to sin any longer. If you are God’s children, you are also heirs to his Kingdom because of what he did for us.

Literal Translation

4 When the fullness of time came, God sent his SON, having come (into being) from a woman, having come (into being) under the Law, 5 so that the (ones) under the Law HE might ransom, so that we might receive (fraternal) adoption. 6 Because you are sons, God sent the Spirit of his SON into our hearts, shouting, “Abba, Father!” 7 So, you are no longer a slave but a son. If (you are) a son, (then) an heir through God, as well.

In Paul’s thoughts from his letter to the Galatians, he paralleled Matthew’s genealogy and infancy narrative (see Christmas Eve commentary for details). For Matthew, Jesus was son of Abraham and son of David through the Law. He was God and Man through a woman. He inherited his birthright as the legal (not biological) of Joseph. For Matthew, the three cycles of fourteen generations represented the “fullness of time.”

Matthew also described the mission of Jesus as Savior. How? Since he was conceived by the Spirit, implicitly he could give the Spirit to his followers. It was the gift of the Spirit that Paul made explicit; through the Spirit of God’s Son we can call God (even shout in ecstatic praise), “Abba, Father!” For Paul, salvation meant a life in the Spirit; such a life was proof of our justification and our on-going sanctification into his Kingdom.

While Paul does not mention the virgin birth in these verses, there can be no doubt he connected Jesus’ human roots to his mother. From his mother and from the Law (represented by his foster-father Joseph), Jesus had an inheritance, then transcended that inheritance. He saved us from the Law’s judgements and gave us the Spirit. Combining the infancy narratives with Paul’s phrase “born from a woman,” we can understand the work of the Spirit in our salvation began with the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. “Jesus... was conceived by the Holy Spirit, born of the Virgin Mary...”

Mary became the Mother of God through the gift of the Spirit. We are children of God through the gift of the same Spirit.

How does the work of the Spirit help you appreciate Mary as the Mother of God? How the Spirit help you praise and thank God for the gift of Mary?