11th December

42 In a loud voice she exclaimed: ‘Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43 But why am I so favoured, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44 As soon as the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed is she who has believed that the Lord would fulfil his promises to her!’ (Luke 1:42-45)

Elizabeth and Mary are enjoying a divinely inspired encounter. Luke portrays this meeting beautifully and movingly: none of it is forced; the encounter might be supernatural, but all is imparted naturally. There is still room for joy and excitement though. Filled with the Spirit, Elizabeth cries out in a “loud voice” (v.42): the volume goes up a notch or two. She speaks blessing over Mary and this very special child (literally, “the fruit of your womb”).

We might wonder at this point how Elizabeth came to know that this would happen. Prior to this, there is little indication that Elizabeth is addressed and informed. Maybe Zechariah was a skilled charades/Pictionary player and filled in a few details, but he was only told John would prepare the way for the Lord. It seems reasonable to conclude that Elizabeth prophesies through divine inspiration that Mary will give birth to the Lord. Yet, bestowed with this knowledge, she is humble rather than haughty, as her rhetorical question reveals: why should she be the one to know this, and be visited by the mother of the Lord (v.43)? Joyous sentiment and knowledge come to Elizabeth naturally and she receives it humbly (v.44). Are we similarly humble when entrusted with knowledge?

Elizabeth concludes with another blessing: this time for “the woman who has believed that there will be a fulfilment to the things spoken to her by the Lord” (v.45). This is a rich blessing. Trusting and believing in the Lord is not always easy. Yet, we can be encouraged that even if we do not always see him, but trust, we shall be blessed (John 20:29); and it is always true that when we believe in Christ, we are put right, justified before God (Romans 3:22). This God spoke promises to Zechariah, Mary, Elizabeth and many before besides, and he continues to speak today: what does He say to us in the middle of Advent?

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