December 19: Luke and Women

Published December 19, 2015 by Unprodigal Daughter


The Gospel of Luke has an interesting emphasis on women, more so than in the other three Gospels. This is significant because the heroes in most of the Old Testament stories were always men. Even when a woman was involved, she was rarely quoted, and she was usually doing something in relation to the men around her. In other words, even in stories where women are included, typically speaking, the story without the man would not work.

In contrast, the Gospel of Luke does not put great weight with the man when he tells the story of John the Baptist. It is true that the angel visits Zechariah–a man. But the story is not about him. The story is about his son and his wife, Elizabeth. In fact, when the angel appears to Zechariah, he is rendered mute due to his lack of faith, and it is his wife, Elizabeth, who is quoted remarking about how God has given her a gift when she was considered a disgrace. Luke deemphasizes the male voice in this story to the point where he is silent.

Why would the author of Luke do this? Is he trying to make the men look foolish, or claim that women are spiritually superior?

Not at all. For thousands of years, salvation history was told through the eyes of the male worshippers. In this case, Luke is stressing that men and women, together as one human race, are both important in the story of how God saves us. In this passage, it is a man who receives the message first, but it is a woman who sets the example for how to prepare for God’s blessing. Both are necessary.

Just a few lines later, Mary receives the message from the angel that she will be the mother of God, and that she will bear a son. It is a woman who brings our savior into the world, and it is a man who is our savior. Luke recognizes that we were meant to live in God’s love together, and neither gender is preferred in the eyes of the Lord.

Opening Prayer

Canticle of Zechariah

Blessed be the Lord,
The God of Israel;
He has come to His people and set them free.

He has raised up for us a mighty Saviour,
Born of the house of His servant David.

Through His holy prophets He promised of old
That He would save us from our enemies,
From the hands of all who hate us.

He promised to show mercy to our fathers
And to remember His holy Covenant.

This was the oath He swore to our father Abraham:
To set us free from the hands of our enemies,
Free to worship Him without fear,
Holy and righteous in His sight
All the days of our life.

You, My child shall be called
The prophet of the Most High,
For you will go before the Lord to prepare His way,
To give his people knowledge of salvation
By the forgiveness of their sins.

In the tender compassion of our Lord
The dawn from on high shall break upon us,
to shine on those who dwell in darkness
And the shadow of death,
And to guide our feet into the way of peace.

Glory to the Father,
and to the Son,
and to the Holy Spirit.
As it was in the beginning.
is now, and will be forever.


(taken from

Daily Readings

Reading 1: JGS 13:2-7, 24-25A

There was a certain man from Zorah, of the clan of the Danites,
whose name was Manoah.
His wife was barren and had borne no children.
An angel of the LORD appeared to the woman and said to her,
“Though you are barren and have had no children,
yet you will conceive and bear a son.
Now, then, be careful to take no wine or strong drink
and to eat nothing unclean.
As for the son you will conceive and bear,
no razor shall touch his head,
for this boy is to be consecrated to God from the womb.
It is he who will begin the deliverance of Israel
from the power of the Philistines.”

The woman went and told her husband,
“A man of God came to me;
he had the appearance of an angel of God, terrible indeed.
I did not ask him where he came from, nor did he tell me his name.
But he said to me,
‘You will be with child and will bear a son.
So take neither wine nor strong drink, and eat nothing unclean.
For the boy shall be consecrated to God from the womb,
until the day of his death.’”

The woman bore a son and named him Samson.
The boy grew up and the LORD blessed him;
the Spirit of the LORD stirred him.

Responsorial Psalm: PS 71:3-4A, 5-6AB, 16-17

R. (see 8) My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

Be my rock of refuge,
a stronghold to give me safety,
for you are my rock and my fortress.
O my God, rescue me from the hand of the wicked.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

For you are my hope, O LORD;
my trust, O God, from my youth.
On you I depend from birth;
from my mother’s womb you are my strength.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!

I will treat of the mighty works of the LORD;
O God, I will tell of your singular justice.
O God, you have taught me from my youth,
and till the present I proclaim your wondrous deeds.
R. My mouth shall be filled with your praise, and I will sing your glory!


Gospel: LK 1:5-25

In the days of Herod, King of Judea,
there was a priest named Zechariah
of the priestly division of Abijah;
his wife was from the daughters of Aaron,
and her name was Elizabeth.
Both were righteous in the eyes of God,
observing all the commandments
and ordinances of the Lord blamelessly.
But they had no child, because Elizabeth was barren
and both were advanced in years.

Once when he was serving as priest
in his division’s turn before God,
according to the practice of the priestly service,
he was chosen by lot
to enter the sanctuary of the Lord to burn incense.
Then, when the whole assembly of the people was praying outside
at the hour of the incense offering,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him,
standing at the right of the altar of incense.
Zechariah was troubled by what he saw, and fear came upon him.

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John.
And you will have joy and gladness,
and many will rejoice at his birth,
for he will be great in the sight of the Lord.
He will drink neither wine nor strong drink.
He will be filled with the Holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb,
and he will turn many of the children of Israel
to the Lord their God.
He will go before him in the spirit and power of Elijah
to turn the hearts of fathers toward children
and the disobedient to the understanding of the righteous,
to prepare a people fit for the Lord.”

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.
But now you will be speechless and unable to talk
until the day these things take place,
because you did not believe my words,
which will be fulfilled at their proper time.”
Meanwhile the people were waiting for Zechariah
and were amazed that he stayed so long in the sanctuary.
But when he came out, he was unable to speak to them,
and they realized that he had seen a vision in the sanctuary.
He was gesturing to them but remained mute.

Then, when his days of ministry were completed, he went home.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.”


For more information on this passage about Zechariah and Elizabeth, watch this interesting clip about the world of their time.

Additional Activities

Even though God’s fulfilled promises included women, we sometimes forget them in our own Scripture studies. For today’s activity, refer to this list, which includes all the women mentioned in the New Testament. Take a few passages, look them up, and reflect on them (especially if they are from Luke’s Gospel). Read the footnotes and the reader’s guides. Figure out how these women fit into the story alongside their male counterparts, and God’s overall plan for us.

Closing Prayer

For our closing prayer, let us remember women that suffer today, and are not viewed as equal in the eyes of God:

Oh Lord, we pray that you may strengthen us with power and revelation, 
so that Christ may live in our hearts through faith. 
Make us firm in love. 
Help us understand your will, audaciousness and wisdom in order to fight for your justice. 
We pray that you may make our hands strong and our voices heard.

Grant us humility firmly, and discernment passionately, 
so that we may fight, not to conquer, but to liberate. 
To liberate the women silenced by the violence, 
from inequality and abuse, 
from unjust and discriminatory cultural or religious practices.

This we ask, in the name of Jesus Christ who, 
with You and with the Holy Spirit, 
lives and reigns, one only God, now and forever. 

(taken from

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