Today’s Bible reading
Read Luke 1:39-45
In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
More thoughts for meditation
Jesus and John, cousins and friends, have their births announced in a very similar way. John will eventually make a way for Jesus. Jesus will inaugurate a whole new era for the entire world. John will acknowledge that the coming one is greater than he is. But they start at similar places with some noteworthy differences.
In both cases, Gabriel prophesies that a son will be born in unusual circumstances, in unexpected ways. The prospective parents (Zechariah and Mary, in this case) are worried but receive some peace. God has a plan for both of these boys, they are initiating something new into the world. They come from strange places; they might even be estranged, yet they are welcoming the world into a new opportunity and a new life.
Jesus’ mother, Mary is young, and John’s parents, Zechariah and Elizabeth, are old. Mary comes from a lower stature than Zechariah and Elizabeth, and Zechariah is directly involved in the conception of John. John’s a prophet inspired by the Spirit, and Jesus will be birthed by the Spirit. The reversal in statuses is a theme in the Gospel too: the son of the priest ushers in the King who will reign over Israel, the child of a virgin.
Both parents ask the angel Gabriel questions. Zechariah asks how he will know, for he doubts because of his age. Mary believes, but wonders about the cause, she asks, “How can this be?” The angel sees Zechariah’s question as lacking in trust, but reveals more to the trusting Mary. Mary trusts. Zechariah doesn’t. The priest is therefore silenced, and Mary who is quick to obey, is blessed.
Suggestions for action
It can be hard to believe in miracles. We might ask the same questions that Zechariah and Mary did every day. We might even read the Bible and wonder how any of it might be true or relevant to us. Later on in this story, John the Baptist, inside Elizabeth, will leap for joy when he feels Jesus next to him. Mary took her own leap of faith in receiving this commission to birth Jesus. John and Jesus will take a similar leap of faith. This week, we’ll see how radical of a leap John took as he altered his whole life in service to God. It starts with a step of faith. Take one today. Forestall your judgment. Curb your cynicism. Doubt your doubt. Be quicker to believe this Advent season. See where God takes you.