God’s Word of Joy
Luke 1:26-56: The angel Gabriel is sent by God to Mary of Nazareth to announce that she is favored by God and chosen to be the mother of God’s Son. The angel tells Mary about Elizabeth’s pregnancy, and Mary then visits Elizabeth in Judea. The reading concludes with Mary’s song of praise, known in various faith traditions as the Magnificat (from the Latin “magnify”).
The Birth of Jesus Is Announced
26In the sixth month of Elizabeth’s pregnancy God sent the angel Gabriel to a town in Galilee named Nazareth. 27 He had a message for a young woman promised in marriage to a man named Joseph, who was a descendant of King David. Her name was Mary. 28The angel came to her and said, “Peace be with you! The Lord is with you and has greatly blessed you!”
29Mary was deeply troubled by the angel’s message, and she wondered what his words meant. 30The angel said to her, “Don’t be afraid, Mary; God has been gracious to you. 31 You will become pregnant and give birth to a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32 He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king, as his ancestor David was, 33and he will be the king of the descendants of Jacob forever; his kingdom will never end!”
34Mary said to the angel, “I am a virgin. How, then, can this be?”
35The angel answered, “The Holy Spirit will come on you, and God’s power will rest upon you. For this reason the holy child will be called the Son of God. 36Remember your relative Elizabeth. It is said that she cannot have children, but she herself is now six months pregnant, even though she is very old. 37 For there is nothing that God cannot do.”
38“I am the Lord’s servant,” said Mary; “may it happen to me as you have said.” And the angel left her.
Mary Visits Elizabeth
39Soon afterward Mary got ready and hurried off to a town in the hill country of Judea. 40She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. 41When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby moved within her. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42 and said in a loud voice, “You are the most blessed of all women, and blessed is the child you will bear! 43Why should this great thing happen to me, that my Lord’s mother comes to visit me? 44For as soon as I heard your greeting, the baby within me jumped with gladness. 45How happy you are to believe that the Lord’s message to you will come true!”
Mary’s Song of Praise
46 Mary said,
“My heart praises the Lord;
47my soul is glad because of God my Savior,
48 for he has remembered me, his lowly servant!
From now on all people will call me happy,
49because of the great things the Mighty God has done for me.
His name is holy;
50from one generation to another
he shows mercy to those who honor him.
51He has stretched out his mighty arm
and scattered the proud with all their plans.
52 He has brought down mighty kings from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly.
53He has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away with empty hands.
54He has kept the promise he made to our ancestors,
and has come to the help of his servant Israel.
55 He has remembered to show mercy to Abraham
and to all his descendants forever!”
56Mary stayed about three months with Elizabeth and then went back home.
Today’s Key Verse: Luke 1:32
“He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High God. The Lord God will make him a king, as his ancestor David was.”
Today’s reading takes on the form of a dialogue between the angel Gabriel and Mary of Nazareth. Luke records three reactions on Mary’s part to the angel’s message. How does Mary react when the angel first speaks to her (verse 29)? What does the angel say next (verses 30-33)? What is Mary’s response (verse 34)? How does the angel reassure Mary (verses 35-37)? What do Mary’s final response (verse 38) and her song (verses 46-55) reveal about her faith?
Lord God, there is nothing you cannot do. Prepare my heart to be open to receive your Word. Yes, Lord, I am your servant. Order my steps this day. Amen.
Luke 1:57-80: John the Baptist is born.