39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. 43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? 44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. 45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
46 And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
56 And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
Luke 1: 39-56
Mary visits Elizabeth (1:39-40)
The angel Gabriel delivers the surprising message to virgin Mary that she would give birth to a son to be named Jesus, the Son of the Most High. How could this happen to a virgin? The angel responds that all things are possible through the Holy Spirit and the power of the Most High. Indeed, Mary’s relative Elizabeth who was old and barren is six months pregnant. Mary humbly and fearfully surrenders herself to the will of God. And as soon as the angel leaves her, Mary hurries to see Elizabeth. She is full of anxiety, fear, uncertainty and hope. She wants to confirm what the angel said to her about Elizabeth. She also wants to share her encounter with the angel with someone who may understand the incredible work of God.
1) When you encounter an uncertain passage in the scripture, what do you do to understand and confirm it?
2) What do you see in Mary’s hurrying to Elizabeth? In what sense do you think you need to hurry just like Mary?
Mary is welcomed (1:41-45)
Mary arrives at Elizabeth’s home. At the sound of her greetings, the child in Elizabeth’s womb leaps for joy because of the Son of God before him. The Holy Spirit fills Elizabeth to help her understand the work of God. She exclaims in a loud voice to bless Mary and the child she will bear. How are Mary and the child blessed? Mary believed that the Lord would accomplish what he spoke to her, unlike Zechariah, Elizabeth’s husband, who did not believe the message from God and became mute. Elizabeth is so favoured and honoured, that she is visited by the mother of her Lord. She is able to recognize and bless Mary and her child, through the revelation of the Holy Spirit.
1) How can we recognize the work of God in our midst? When and how do you bless others through whom God works?
2) Have you ever received a promise in or through scriptures that has been fulfilled (or you believe will be fulfilled?)
3) How does the Lord visit us today? Have you ever felt thus favored by God?
Mary responds with a song (1:46-56): the Magnificat
Mary affirms her belief that the message of God for her will be accomplished. She strengthens her faith and expresses it in a song called The Magnificat. She praises and rejoices in God her Savior for what he has done for her his servant. God has lifted her up from her lowly state and exalted her to be the mother of God’s Son. Indeed, all generations will recognize this and call her blessed. She firmly believes what the angel announced to her. Mary recognizes the character of God because she personally experiences it in her life: God’s faithfulness, power, holiness and mercy. She moves on to praise God for his special favor on Israel. Throughout its history, God has brought down proud rulers and lifted up the humble. She believes that God will fulfill his covenant to her fathers through the coming Messiah. She knows who God is and what he does for her and for Israel.
She stays with Elizabeth about three months until the time of the birth of John, and returns home with great conviction, thanksgiving, joy, hope and vision for all.
1) What do you see in the God Mary describes in her song? How does it relate to your own life?
2) Take some time to remember and reflect on what God has done for you and your family.
3) Do you have a personal relationship with God and his Son Jesus? If you would like to establish a personal relationship with God during this Advent season, please pray and invite Jesus into your life and heart to be your Lord and Savior.
A prayer for this day:
Lord God, Thank you for sending your Son our Savior through the humble Mary. Help me to affirm that you are God of mercy and might, and God for all people. And grant me the faith and the humility to accept your Son Jesus into the center of my life.
Rev. Dr. Jong Hyeong Lee (ThM, 1979; PhD, 1983)
Volunteer Chaplain at Alexian Brothers Medical Center, Chicagoland