The Mother of God, the Incarnation
and the Epiphany

Mary, the Mother of God

When Elizabeth was pregnant for six months, God sent the angel Gabriel to a young woman named Mary. Mary was engaged to Joseph. And she lived in Nazareth, a town in Galilee. When the angel entered Mary's home, he greeted her: "The Lord is blessing you, for he is with you now!" Mary wondered why he greeted her and was upset by what he said. "Don't be afraid," the angel told her, "you are blessed by God. You will have a son named Jesus. He will be great. God will call him 'Son' and will give him the throne of his ancestor David. He will rule over Israel forever because his reign will never end."

"I serve the Lord!" Mary said. "Let what you said happen to me."

Then, the angel left her.

Based on Luke 1:26-33

God had a plan for us. St. Paul wrote: "When the time was just right, God sent his Son who was born from a woman. His Son would free us so we could be God's children." (Galatians 4:4-5) The woman who bore God's Son into the world was Mary.

Before the angel came to visit her, Mary was a poor, unknown country girl. But when she said "Yes" to God's angel, she not only changed her life, she changed everyone's life. For she was the mother of Jesus. He was both human and God. So, Mary not only gave birth to a human being. She bore God into the world. That is why we call Mary, the "Mother of God."

Think about the angel's greeting from an old Bible translation: "Hail Mary, full of grace. The Lord is with you."

Mary got up and went as quick as she could to a town in the hills of Judea. There, she entered Zechariah's house and said "Hello" to her cousin, Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the baby in her womb suddenly moved a lot. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. "God has blessed you more than any other woman!" Elizabeth shouted. "And God has blessed the son in your womb!"

Based on Luke 1:39-42

Elizabeth's greeting from the same translation was: "Blessed are you among women. And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus." The angel's greeting along with Elizabeth's greeting form the first part of the "Hail Mary."

"Hail Mary, full of grace the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women. And blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now, and at the hour of our death. Amen."

The Incarnation and Holy Family

When Mary found out she was pregnant by the power of God's Spirit, she was already engaged to Joseph. He was a good man and he didn't want to embarrass her in public. So, he decided to end their engagement in private.

During the time Joseph was thinking about his decision, one of God's angels appeared to him in a dream. "Joseph, son of King David," the angel said to him. "Don't be afraid to make Mary your wife. She got pregnant by the power of God's Spirit! She will have a son. And you will call him 'Jesus' because he will save people from their sins."

After Joseph woke up, he did what God's angel wanted him to do. He made Mary his wife.

Based on Matthew 1:18-21, 24

Joseph was not the father of Jesus. God the Father was! When Jesus was born into the world, God came to live as one of us. The Church calls "God born into the world" the Incarnation.

If Joseph was not the father of Jesus, who was he? Mary and he were wed and became husband and wife. And Joseph raised Jesus like his own son. But their family was different from any other. They were the "Holy Family," because Jesus lived with his mother and foster father as he grew up.

Mary and Joseph did not have any other children. Mary was a virgin throughout her life. That is why we call her, the "Blessed Virgin Mary."

Jesus was born in Bethlehem, a small village just outside Jerusalem.

The Epiphany

After the birth of Jesus, wise men who studied the stars came from the East. The star they saw led them and stood over the house where Jesus lived. When they saw this, they were very happy. When they entered the house, they saw the child with Mary, his mother. They bowed before Jesus, like he was a king. Then they opened their treasures and offered him three gifts: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.

Based on Matthew 2:9b -11

Why did the wise men come to see Jesus. They studied the stars at night. And they were convinced God told them something new. A new King was born. So, they traveled from far away. And they found Jesus. Not only did they find the King of God's people. They found the King of all peoples.

Soon afterwards, the Holy Family moved. Eventually, they returned to a hamlet called Nazareth. Nazareth was in a region called Galilee. That's where Jesus grew up.