Day 313: The Ark of the New Covenant

Introduction to Messianic Fulfillment (with Jeff Cavins)

Luke 1:3 Theophilus: While the identity of the person is uncertain, the name means “loved by God,” a general greeting that could refer to any member of the Christian community.

Ch 1:5 Elizabeth was a kinswoman of Mary (cf. Lk 1:36). As the son of Zechariah and Elizabeth, John the Baptist was a relative of Christ and a priest (cf. Lk 1:1-24). (CCC 717)

Ch 1:5-80 Luke begins his Gospel with an account of the events leading up to Christ’s Birth and early life, often called the Infancy Narrative. He places the narrative within a historical context and includes details that no other Gospel reports, including the conception and birth of John the Baptist (cf. Lk 1:5-25, 57-80); the Annunciation (cf. Lk 1:39-56); and the beautiful prayers the Magnificat (cf. Lk 1:46-55), the Canticle of Zechariah, also called the Benedictus (cf. Lk 1:68-79), and the Canticle of Simeon called the Nunc Dimittis (cf. Lk 2:29-32). (CCC 1171)

Ch 1:5-38 The visit of the Archangel Gabriel to Zechariah anticipates in some ways the story of the Annunciation, which appears later in the chapter. Both Zechariah and Mary were devout and righteous; both were told by the angel of a miraculous conception and of the role their child would play in salvation history; and both were troubled by the message. The primary difference, however, is that Zechariah doubted due to his wife’s advance age, whereas Mary believed the angel although she was perplexed as to how this conception would take place. Whereas Zechariah asked for a sign, Mary made no such request but would be given a sign anyway. The Archangel Gabriel announced both the birth of John, who was the last and greatest prophet of the coming Messiah, and the Birth of Jesus himself. (CCC 332)

Ch 1:7 They had no child: In the world portrayed in the Old Testament, childlessness was often viewed with shame and as a sign of disfavor with God. Like several key women of the Old Testament, Elizabeth would be blessed with a child through divine intervention preceded by an angelic message despite her barrenness and old age. The Church recognizes that infertility is a cross for many couples but cautions that couples may use only morally licit means in order to achieve pregnancy and/or receive children into their family. (CCC 2374-2379)

Ch 1:10-13 Hour of incense: In the Temple, priests would burn incense and offer prayers during the morning and evening sacrifices, also known as the “hour of prayer.” For most priests of that time, to burn incense in the Temple was a once-in-a-lifetime honor.

John: The name means “The Lord (YHWH) has shown favor”-reflecting the favor God has bestowed upon his once-childless parents. (CCC 25810

Ch 1:14-17 The angel foretold the prophetic mission that John the Baptist would carry out.

Filled with the Holy Spirit: John was prepared for his prophetic role by grace even before birth. The source of his grace would be Christ himself, who would be conceived by the same Holy Spirit in the womb of his own Mother.

In the spirit and power of Elijah...a people prepared: In the Old Testament, Malachi prophesied that a prophet like Elijah would return to preach repentance, reunite the tribes of Israel, heal divided families, and prepare the people for the coming of the Messiah (cf. Mal 3:1, 4:5-6). John the Baptist was not Elijah reincarnated; rather, he carried out a mission that brought to completion that of Elijah. (CCC 523, 696, 716-718, 724, 2684)

Ch 1:19 Gabriel: This Hebrew name means “My strength is God.” He had been the archangel who later appeared to Mary to announce that she was chosen to be the Mother of the Messiah. (CCC 335, 430)

Ch 1:25 Take away my reproach among men: Elizabeth’s infertility was viewed by many at that time as a sign of disfavor with God; therefore, her pregnancy was a sign of God’s blessing. (CCC 2374)

Ch 1:26-38 The account of the Annunciation manifests some basic truths about Christ. He is the Son of God conceived with a human nature by a virgin through the power of the Holy Spirit. The Incarnation was accomplished according to the divine plan, which included the free consent of Mary (CCC 723). Through her selfless “yes,” Mary became the model of faith, generosity, and complete conformity to God’s holy will. The angel’s words of greeting to Mary are the basis for the first lines of the Hail Mary. The Annunciation is the first Joyful Mystery of the Rosary as well as the basis for the Angelus. (CCC 144, 484-490, 494-497, 723, 2571)

Ch 1:28 Hail: The Greek chaire means “rejoice!”

Full of grace: The Greek kecharitomene indicates that Mary “has been and continues to be” filled with the grace of God, which is a most fitting condition to be the Mother of God. Kecharitomene also leads us to the doctrine of the Immaculate Conception, which holds that Mary was conceived in the fullness of grace without the stain of Original Sin through the merits of her Son’s redemption. Long recognized in Catholic tradition, this dogma was proclaimed infallibly by Bl. Pius IX in Ineffabilis Deus. (CCC 490-493, 722, 2676)

Ch 1:31 Jesus: This Hebrew name means literally, “the Lord (YHWH) saves,” which emphasizes both Christ’s identity and his mission. Jesus Christ-fully God and fully man-through his person, his words, and his actions, is the fullness of God’s Revelation to people, and his Sacrifice on the Cross merits the salvation of the world. (CCC 430-431, 435, 2812)

Ch 1:32-33 His father David: Although Christ was not Joseph’s natural son, under Jewish law he was considered his son and, thus, a direct descendant of David like his father.

House of Jacob: This refers to the whole kingdom of Israel, representing the twelve sons of Jacob, which had been transformed by conquest, exile, and assimilation into Gentile lands. The new kingdom founded by Christ would be the work of the Holy Spirit. (CCC 559, 709)

Ch 1:34 How can this be, since I have no husband?: Literally translated from the Greek, “I do not know man,” this statement points to Mary’s virginity. The Incarnation is a divine work that is beyond human comprehension. (CCC 484, 497-511)

Ch 1:35-37 Note how Gabriel referred to all three Persons of the Trinity: “Holy Spirit,” “Most High,” and “Son of God.”

Overshadow you: The Greek episkiasei is the same word used in the Septuagint to speak of how God “overshadowed” the Tabernacle and established his presence in Israel (epeskiazen; cf. Ex 40:35). The term also appears in the Transfiguration (epeskiazen; cf. Lk 9:34) and in Peter’s healing shadow (episkiasei; cf. Acts 5:15). The theophanies of cloud and light are often used in Scripture to indicate an unveiling of the glory of God.

With God nothing will be impossible: God can accomplish works that go beyond the realm of human possibility. Mary’s faith acknowledges the infinite power of God. We, too, recognize the omnipotence of God in the Mass when the priest addresses God as the “almighty ever-living God.” (CCC 269-276, 437, 505-507, 697)

Ch 1:38 I am the handmaid of the Lord: In giving her assent and obedience to God, Mary made a total gift of herself.

Let it be to me according to your word: Mary’s words here are of total trust and devotion to the will of God. She not only accepted God’s plan but wholeheartedly embraced it in her own life. Unsullied by even a single sin, Mary dedicated herself completely to her Son and his mission. “The Father of mercies willed that the Incarnation should be preceded by assent on the part of the predestined mother, so that just as a woman had a share in the coming of death, so also should a woman contribute to the coming of life” (LG 56; cf. LG 61). Mary is thus regarded as the New Eve as St. Irenaeus explained: “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened with her faith” (Against Heresies, 3, 22, 4: PG 7/1, 959 A). (CCC 64, 488-494, 508-510, 2617. 2827)

Ch 1:29-56 The remarkable meeting of Mary and Elizabeth teaches us about the Person of Christ and the prophetic role of John the Baptist, who leapt in Elizabeth’s womb. Elizabeth referred to Mary as the “mother of my Lord” and affirmed that the Christ child was a fulfillment of all that God had promised through the prophets. By virtue of the Christ child within her, the reunion of Mary with her cousin Elizabeth represents the ultimate visit of God to his people. This mutual greeting of the two women, called the Visitation, is the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. (CCC 148, 422, 523)

Ch 1:42 Blessed are you among women...womb: These words form the second sentence of the Hail Mary. Mary is blessed because her faith manifested in her total commitment to her calling. Through her faith-filled “yes,” the Son of God came into the world. As mother of Christ, she is the Mother of all those redeemed in her Son, who form the members of his Mystical Body, the Church. Mary is also the Ark of the New Covenant, for just as the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament represented the dwelling of God on earth among his people, Mary herself bore the incarnate Son of God in her womb. (CCC 523, 717, 2676)

Ch 1:43 Mother of my Lord: Elizabeth’s words identify both Christ’s divinity and Mary’s divine Motherhood. She is the Mother of God and our Mother as well. Because of her intimate cooperation with her Son, the beautiful tradition of the Rosary-consisting of the contemplation of the mysteries of Christ’s Incarnation, public ministry, Death, and Resurrection-was developed. Some of these mysteries are celebrated in the liturgical feasts dedicated to Mary, including among them the Immaculate Conception (December 8), the Mother of God (January 1), and the Assumption (August 15). Other prayers, including the Memorare and the Regina Caeli, emphasize different tenets of the life of Christ as related to Mary. (CCC 448, 495, 967-975, 2677)

Ch 1:46-56 The Canticle of Mary, called the Magnificat from the first word of the Latin translation, is a prayer included in the Evening Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church. The Magnificat is a song both of Mary, Mother of God, and of the entire People of God for the graces received and the salvation won for us through Christ. Reflecting Hannah’s canticle (cf. 1 Sm 2:1-10), the Magnificat expresses praise and joy, recalls God’s faithfulness to his people, and affirms the virtues of humility and mercy. The prayer “magnifies” God for what he has done for Mary, his humble and faithful handmaiden. The Magnificat is a wonderful testimony to Mary as our Hope and Advocate. Her great sanctity and singular role in the Redemption leads to this prophecy: “All generations will call me blessed.” The prophetic words of the Magnificat are fulfilled each time the faithful honor her with the words “Blessed are you among women” in the Hail Mary. (CCC 2097, 2465, 2619, 2622, 2675-2682)

Ch 1:57 The Nativity of John the Baptist is celebrated each year on June 24. This is the only person, besides Christ and Mary, whose birth is a liturgical celebration. 

Ch 1:59-66 It was customary for Jewish families to name their male children at the time of their circumcision, which occurred on the eighth day after birth. The act of circumcision represented the initiation of the child into the covenant of Israel. (CCC 527, 1150)

Ch 1:67-80 The Canticle of Zechariah, called the Benedictus from the first word of the Latin translation, praises the faithfulness of God to his covenant with Israel. The Benedictus is recited in the Morning Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours, the official prayer of the Church. (CCC 422, 717)

Ch 1:73 The oath which he swore: God was faithful to the promises he made to Abraham, even though their fulfillment required the sacrifice of his only Son. (CCC 706)

Ch 2:1-7 To fulfill the requirement of the census, Joseph, as a descendant of David, needed to register in Bethlehem, the birthplace of David. This passage reaffirms that Joseph (and therefore Christ) was of the line of David and that Christ was born in Bethlehem, thus fulfilling the prophecy of Micah (cf. Mi 5:2). (CCC 488, 525)

Ch 2:7 First-born: This term does not mean to imply that Mary had more children after Christ. Rather, it was a designation given to a woman’s first male child and was accompanied by certain rights, inheritance and social standing. The Church’s teaching on Mary’s Perpetual Virginity-before, during, and after the birth of Christ-is a tenet of faith that affirms the absolute and miraculous initiative of God in bringing about the Incarnation. The Birth of Christ is the third Joyful Mystery of the Rosary and is celebrated as the Feast of the Nativity, or Christmas. 

Swaddling cloths: Strips of fabric that were used to wrap newborns in such a way that prevented them from moving their arms or legs.

Manger: A feeding trough for animals here served as Christ’s cradle. (CCC 502-503, 515)

Ch 2:8-20 The angels explained to the shepherds what the Birth of Christ meant: He is God, the Savior, the long-awaited Messiah. No one expected the Messiah would come to Israel as a baby, born in the poverty of a stable, but it was precisely in such poverty that the glory of Heaven is revealed. (CCC 333, 486, 515, 695)

Ch 2:9 In each celebration of the Holy Mass, the resurrected Christ is present-Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity-and we are surrounded by the angels and the saints, especially Mary. (CCC 333, 1374)

Ch 2:14 Glory to God...pleased: The angels’ hymn inspired the opening words of the Gloria, a prayer recited in the Mass

Peace among men: The peace offered to all people is the mercy of God and communion with Christ. (CCC 333, 559, 725)

Ch 2:16 And they went with haste: The message that they had received was so important that they went immediately. The example of the shepherds teaches us the importance of making God the first priority in our lives and seeking him wholeheartedly. (CCC 437)

Ch 2:19 Mary kept...her heart: Mary pondered those things that she did not yet fully understand (cf. Lk 2:51). Through prayerful meditation, we can come to a greater understanding of the mysteries of the Faith. Some scholars consider this verse as evidence that the infancy story of Christ may have been told to Luke by Mary herself. (CCC 94, 2599)

Ch 2:21-24 Christ was circumcised on the eighth day after his Birth, an event celebrated in some liturgical calendars on the Octave of Christmas, January 1. Circumcision was a sign of joining the covenant of Israel as a descendant of Abraham (cf. Lk 1:59-66). Likewise, as required by Jewish Law, Christ’s parents brought him to the Temple forty days after his Birth for the ritual purification of Mary and his presentation as the firstborn Son. A woman’s purification following childbirth was necessary before she could worship in the Temple or handle holy objects again; it required the sacrifice of a lamb, two turtle doves, or two pigeons. Arguably, the circumstances of Mary’s conception and of the Birth of Christ did not render her impure under the Law, but she followed the Law nevertheless. The presentation ritual of a child was a “public redemption” that was necessary for any first born son of any tribe other than Levi. The parents would symbolically give their son to God and buy him back by a small monetary offering. The Presentation of Christ in the Temple is the fourth Joyful Mystery of the Rosary and is celebrated in the liturgical calendar forty days after Christmas on February 2. This feast is also called Candlemas (“Candle Mass”) to emphasize that Christ is the Light of the World as predicted by Simeon. For this reason, candles are blessed on this day for use throughout the year. (CCC 435, 527, 529, 583, 1245)

Ch 2:25-38 Mary’s faith never wavered as she trusted fully in God’s Word. She, more than any other person in history, experienced and shared intimately in the mystery of the redemptive suffering that Christ endured for our salvation. The Canticle of Simeon, called Nunc Dimittis from the first words of the Latin Translation, is recited in the Night Prayer of the Liturgy of the Hours. (CCC 149, 575, 587, 618, 695)

Ch 2:25 Consolation of Israel: The coming of the Messiah, the Redeemer-this term, as well as “redemption of Jerusalem,” indicates that both Simeon and Anna were awaiting the Messiah and found their longing fulfilled in the Christ child. (CCC 711)

Ch 2:32 This language identifying the Messiah is reminiscent of the Servant Song of the prophet Isaiah (cf. Is 49:5-6). (CCC 713)

Ch 2:36-38 Anna’s commitment to celibacy, asceticism, and constant prayer resembles that of the contemplative religious orders and communities that eventually developed in the Church and remain active today.

Fasting: A discipline or mortification of foregoing food with the intent of bringing about spiritual good. It has always been a highly recommended practice in the Catholic Church and is required of the faithful on prescribed days during Lent and for an hour prior to receiving Holy Communion. (CCC 711, 1387, 2687)

Ch 2:39-40 Nazareth was a poor, unremarkable town in Galilee that was never mentioned in the Old Testament. These two sentences summarize the life of Christ from his infancy up until about the age of twelve. (CCC 513, 533-551)

Ch 2:41-52 Passover, which begins on the fifteenth day of the Jewish month of Nisan, is a feast that commemorates the freedom of the Jews from slavery in Egypt. At the time of Christ, all Jewish men were required to make a pilgrimage to the Temple in Jerusalem. The men often brought their families and traveled in caravans with other families, with men and women travelling in separate groups and various children in both groups. It was within this arrangement that Christ’s absence from the caravan was not immediately noticed. Christ’s response at being found in the Temple indicated that he understood his identity as the Son of God and his mission to redeem humanity. This incident points to the Passion that would occur in the Holy City of Jerusalem. Joseph and Mary continued to accept their Son’s mission with humble faith. Christ’s three days in the Temple can also be seen as a prefiguration of his three days in the tomb before his Resurrection. (CCC 534, 583, 2599)

(*The Didache Bible RSV-CE Ignatius Edition, 2006)

Act 1: A King is Born 


Herod the Great 

Jesus’ Birth 

Emmanuel, God with Us 

A New Ark of the Covenant 

(*Walking With God: A Journey Through The Bible by Tim Gray and Jeff Cavins)

Key Event 55: Annunciation (Luke 1:26-38)

The angel Gabriel greets a young Jewish woman named Mary with, "Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you" (LK 1:29).  Mary responds with great faith and a wholehearted embrace of God's will.  Her "yes" is an essential step in God's plan for the salvation of the world, making way for the Incarnation of the Son of God.