St. Mary's Response vs. Zachariah the Priest's?

edited December 1969 in Faith Issues
According to the Gospel of Luke, the Archangel Gabriel visited both of them, prophesying the births of Christ and John the Baptist.

Both responded in the same exact way, asking how and then stating their reasoning for being hesitant about accepting such news [St. Mary said "she knew no man" and Zachariah the Priest said "he and his wife were of old age"].

Yet, only Zachariah was seemingly punished due to his weak faith?

Can someone explain why?  Have the Church father's commented about this?


  • I believe there is inference as to intonation of the words.  Ultimately, the Virgin Mary declares herself as a 'handmaid of the Lord' and that 'let it be done to me as you say'.  She shows acceptance.  Zacharias showed doubt and even sarcasm.
  • yeah, saint mary was like 'um, i know about men and women and making babies and can't work it out how it can be done' (the actual quote is 'how can this be?') and zachariah was 'yeah, right, i don't really think so, so u better give me some kind of proof' (the quote is 'how can i be sure of this?')
    this is how i see it anyway.
  • well when i first noticed it, i figured Zachariah received the punishment do to his position as a man of God?

    but when i read it over a couple of times, i just couldn't comprehend they both asked how b/c it was physically impossible?  the sarcasm theory, fits beautifully, but the passage doesn't relay enough evidence to support it?
  • An explaination that I heard before is that with Zachariah he was priest and knowledgeable about the old testament. So he knew about many of the fathers like Abraham who God granted him a child in old age and many other instances. Thats why he shouldnt have doubted God's word just because of his old age.
    However, with St Mary, she never heard of anything like that happen in the old testament, it was something above human understanding. In addition, St Mary right after she asked the angel "how could this be", she said that she is the servant of God and let his will be done. So for St Mary's question she was not doubting the words of God but rather she was asking for a better explaination so she can understand what might happen.
    Also, remember that St Mary was not married and according to the law of the old testament if a girl gets pregnant without being marriage they would stone her and she wouldnt be able to defend herself.
    I am not sure if there are other reasons, but I hope this helped.
  • greg,

    It is inferred because the Archangel can plainly see that he [Zachariah] is old.  The fact that Zachariah stated this obvious observation to him [Gabriel the Archangel] was to identify gest and sarcasm at the Archangel's holy words.
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