Austrian Lutheran Catharina Regina von Greiffenberg (1633-1694) was a renowned Baroque poet and composed three sets of meditations on the Christ’s life, suffering, and death. In this reflection on the Annunciation, she considers the significance of Gabriel’s message to Mary, which revealed the eternal intent of the Lord to condescend to humanity through a woman of few means in an insignificant place in order to bring divine blessing to the whole world.


The highest God above all the heavens sent an ambassador, one of the most glorious angels, down to earth, to Galilee, a poor, obscure spot on the way to Nazareth, an unimportant little hamlet, to a virgin who was the most insignificant and lowliest of maidens, the betrothed of a simple, common carpenter. In this simplicity, however, the divine Trinity showed its greatest wisdom in that it knew both how to find in the greatest lowliness capacity for virtue and how to impart the capacity for divine things to the most wretched incapacity. It shows its omnipotence in its ability to exalt a little speck of earth to heavenly spectacles and splendid miracles. It displays its goodness by electing the most miserable things for the purpose of its elevation, and it displays its freedom by turning with its grace there where, at the beginning, one—and all the rest of the world—would not have expected it.

Who would believe that the King of kings, the Lord of all the potentates, would dispatch an angel as an ambassador to a poor maiden or the wife of an artisan? What is more absurd before the world and yet better disposed for the dispensation of heaven? Poverty and lowliness are no hindrance to divine calling: as little as they could take from her the right of inheritance of her royal birth from the house of David and still less the gracious election by God, whose piercing eyes see through all the mountains of misery the small flash of the metal of virtue that his hand has placed within them. He selected her from the very beginning of eternity for this high honor and from that same beginning made her fit for it. And so he therefore suffered her to be called to it too. For all divine calling has its roots and foundation in eternal Providence.

Luke, ed. Beth Kreitzer, Reformation Commentary on Scripture, NT vol. 3, p. 15.