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II. TODAY’s TEXT: Luke 1:39-56 (NRSV)
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,
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.
Today’s text invites us into the relationship between two relatives who carry within their wombs the future of the New Testament. Elizabeth, is pregnant with John the baptizer and Mary, is expecting Jesus. When the women greet one another, Elizabeth says that the babe within her leaped for joy at the sound of Mary’s voice. For the ancient reader, this might have sounded similar to the tumbling around in the womb performed by Jacob and Esau. Continuing on with today’s text, notice that the focus of Mary’s Song is not terribly related to her pregnancy or her specific situation. She does give God praise, but her reason for that praise is more about justice than it is about her child! It seems that from Luke’s perspective, Mary’s joy is a new kind of Joy that reaches far beyond the babe that she carries within her. It’s a joy that celebrates the arrival of God’s kingdom in which the lowly are lifted up and grace, mercy, justice and joy reign.
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