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How Mary is like Abraham in the Bible


Wikipedia | Domena publiczna

Philip Kosloski - published on 03/23/23

Both Mary and Abraham are invited to trust with supernatural faith in God's divine plan.

When contemplating the response of the Blessed Virgin Mary to the angel Gabriel’s message delivered to her at the Annunciation, St. John Paul II saw a remarkable similarity to the response of Abraham in the Old Testament.

He compared the two in a homily given on the solemnity of the Annunciation in 2000, explaining, “In many ways, Mary is clearly different from Abraham; but in deeper ways ‘the friend of God’ (cf. Is 41:8) and the young woman of Nazareth are very alike.”

St. John Paul II goes on to list the many similarities between Abraham and Mary, pointing out in particular their faithful response to God’s invitation.

Both receive a wonderful promise from God. Abraham was to be the father of a son, from whom there would come a great nation. Mary is to be the Mother of a Son who would be the Messiah, the Anointed One. “Listen!,” Gabriel says, “ You are to conceive and bear a son. … The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David … and his reign will have no end” (Lk 1:31-33).

For both Abraham and Mary, the divine promise comes as something completely unexpected. God disrupts the daily course of their lives, overturning its settled rhythms and conventional expectations. For both Abraham and Mary, the promise seems impossible. Abraham’s wife Sarah was barren, and Mary is not yet married: “How can this come about,” she asks, “since I am a virgin?” (Lk 1:34).

In both situations Abraham and Mary respond generously to God, despite their lack of knowledge of exactly how God will fulfill his promise.

Like Abraham, Mary is asked to say yes to something that has never happened before. Sarah is the first in the line of barren wives in the Bible who conceive by God’s power, just as Elizabeth will be the last. Gabriel speaks of Elizabeth to reassure Mary: “Know this too: your kinswoman Elizabeth has, in her old age, herself conceived a son” (Lk 1:36).

Like Abraham, Mary must walk through darkness, in which she must simply trust the One who called her. Yet even her question “How can this come about?” suggests that Mary is ready to say yes, despite her fears and uncertainties. Mary asks not whether the promise is possible, but only how it will be fulfilled. It comes as no surprise, therefore, when finally she utters her fiat: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let what you have said be done to me” (Lk 1:38). With these words, Mary shows herself the true daughter of Abraham, and she becomes the Mother of Christ and Mother of all believers.

While Mary is not often compared to Abraham, it is clear that she is a “true daughter of Abraham,” following in his footsteps of responding to God with complete faith.

BibleSaintsVirgin Mary
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