I recall reading a revised translation of the Magnificat where the word, “handmaid,” was simply translated as servant. When I read why the traditional word had been altered, it was noted that critics thought the word was sexist and demeaning. The word, “servant,” while still denoting a person of service, did not imply gender and the accompanying submission. It is my suspicion that, if they could have gotten away with it, the replacement word would have disappeared, too. While I would admit certain equivalence in the terms, I would insist upon Mary’s self-attributed title.
“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). She is literally telling God that she belongs to him and to use her any way he sees fit. Mary teaches us a fundamental lesson about what it means to be a disciple of the Lord. Her humble acceptance of divine providence must come along with faith if it is to be genuine. Without humility we cannot know God as we should. Without humility, even the slightest act of charity and religious observance becomes an arduous chore.
The YES of Mary to God’s message as brought to her by an angel stands in stark conflict with the NO of Satan and of those who dissent in the Church.