1 Elizabeth becomes pregnant, Luke 1:5-25

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Elizabeth to be a respectable mrs married to Zechariah, a member the the Jerusalem priesthood. She was previous menopause, she husband to be elderly, and also she had provided up hoping because that a child. But her life take it an unforeseen turn. She ended up being pregnant, to the amazement that all.

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2 mary visits Elizabeth, Luke 1:57-66While she was pregnant with the future John the Baptist, she offered shelter to her young cousin Mary that Nazareth. Mary, pregnant v Jesus and unmarried, may have actually been fleeing native the fury of her family. When the females met, every knew the they and also their children would be an extraordinary part of God’s plan.

3 Elizabeth has actually a son John, Luke 1:67-80A few months later Elizabeth boring the son she had always hoped for. She called him ‘John’. He to be circumcised, and Zechariah regained his speech and hearing.


Elizabeth i do not care pregnant, Luke 1:5-25

First, Luke outlined Elizabeth’s family background (see Elizabeth in Luke’s gospel). She to be descended native a long line of priests – Luke do this clear right in ~ the start of his gospel, because he wanted to say, loud and also clear, the John and Jesus both come from a respectable, well-connected family.


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Reconstruction of the regalia worn by the Jewish high priest


He started by discussing that not one but both John’s parents came from a priestly family, and that Elizabeth’s father to be a monk – this is what is meant by ‘daughter that Aaron’.

What was her problem?

Despite her impeccable household background, Elizabeth was barren. In those days childlessness was not simply a misfortune, it to be a disgrace (see Genesis 16:4, 11; 29:32; 30:1, 1 Samuel 1:5-6, 11, 2:5, 7-8).

But in Elizabeth’s situation this could hardly it is in so, since her call was blameless. Instead, there had to it is in some other reason.

Could it be that, favor the an excellent fore-mother buy it (Genesis 18:11) and also the childless Hannah (1 Samuel 1-2) she remained barren because God had a greater plan for her?

Luke now collection the scene because that the very first dramatic event.

Why was Zechariah at the Temple?

Zechariah had actually been chosen by many to get in the sanctuary that the holy place of Jerusalem and also offer incense as part of the daily worship in ~ the holy place – only the priest who had been preferred by arbitrarily lot, and therefore by oh my gosh hand, might enter the sanctuary.

It was a pivotal moment for Zechariah. Over there were around 8,000 clergymans at that time, therefore any priest might only intend to market sacrifice once or twice in his lifetime.

Now it was Zechariah’s turn.


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A model of Herod’s Temple. Zechariah readily available sacrifice within the doors of the key building, though not in the inner room referred to as the holy of Holies. Below: floor setup of the temple enclosure


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At around 3pm ~ above this particular day he stepped forward right into the sanctuary to sell incense. The civilization waited outside, as did the other priests.

At that moment, an angel (see What is an angel?) appeared at the ideal side that the altar in front of Zechariah.

Why the right-hand side? due to the fact that a favored courtier or royal family member constantly took this place in a royal throne room.


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Zechariah and also the Angel, James Tissot


But one angel? What specifically does the mean?

It’s tough to tell, but biblical writers appeared to usage this word to show that a human being had actually received a message from God.

Our skeptical, must-have-proof people finds it tough to understand, however we would more than likely say the exact same thing in a various way:

that a deep conviction the purpose cleared up on the person involved, guiding them towards a certain course of action.

The angel’s message

The angel spoke. That reassured the terrified Zechariah, telling him no to be afraid.

Then it offered him momentous news: his mam Elizabeth would conceive and also have a son. Because the hand of God is plainly evident in what is happening, the listener/reader knows that this will be no simple child.

The angel was specific. The kid would have 4 characteristics:

he would be great in the sight of Godhe would certainly drink no wine and thus live the ascetic life the a Nazarene, setting him apart from simple peoplehe would be filled through the Spirit indigenous his conceptionhe would certainly prepare for the Messiah and also thus be a catalyst in between Israel and God.

What was Zechariah’s response?

It’s hard to believe, but Zechariah quibbled! that expressed doubts the this might happen. The discreetly include that

he was no longer qualified of sex-related intercourse, and also thathis wife had actually ceased menstruating.

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There was actual confusion ~ above his component here, however there was additionally the sense that he to be objecting, together he asked because that a sign – simply as the an excellent fore-father Abraham walk (Genesis 15:8), and also Gideon (Judges 6:36-40) and Hezekiah (2 monarchs 20:8-11).

The point of view responded by specify name itself – ‘I am Gabriel. I stand in the existence of God’.

Can an angel be offended?

Only the highest possible officials in an asian royal court stood in the visibility of the king. Protocol demanded the most civilization bow or prostrate themselves, therefore Gabriel was informing Zechariah he had actually committed an violation in not believing the message.

As punishment because that his lèse-majesté Zechariah was decreased to silence, probably ending up being both deaf and mute.

In one means it was a reassuring miracle,but in an additional it was a punishment, one that would last until the birth of the child set him free.

Zechariah is to win dumb

When Zechariah come out that the holy place he to be unable come speak.

This to be puzzling because that the people about him. Why couldn’t the speak? clearly something momentous must have actually happened.

The priests and people construed his silence together proof the he had had some profound spiritual experience, probably a vision, yet Zechariah could not tell castle of his experience.

Frustrated by his inability to speak, that tried to describe by signing. This had minimal success. That finished the end his allotted service, then headed home.

Elizabeth pleases God

Zechariah had doubted but Elizabeth had actually not, and now she, not her unfortunate husband, moved into the spotlight.

Home at last, Zechariah discovered comfort in the eight of his wife. One thing brought about another, and she ended up being pregnant – to her surprise and also the amazement of she family and also friends.

When she establish she was pregnant, she entered seclusion. This expected she did not leave her house for any reason, no one receive any visitors. She stayed favor this, top a calm and also quiet life, till her pregnancy became physically obvious to all that saw her.


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‘The Visitation’, by Jacopo Pontormo. Environment-friendly is the traditional colour of brand-new life.


Mary visits she kinswoman Elizabeth

Luke 1:57-66

Meanwhile, the young Galilean woman Mary had actually been betrothed to Joseph of Nazareth with

a formal experienced agreement, legitimate binding, between the households of the young people,and a bride price payment to Mary’s family.

It was meant that the formal marital relationship would take place about a year later, as soon as Mary would be taken to the home to Joseph’s family to live.

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Accustomed together we are to benign images the the Annunciation, and of Mary and Joseph with the infant Jesus, we often tend to blot out the fact of the situation: a young girl to be pregnant, she fiancé knew that was no the father, yet the bride price had been paid.

In a center Eastern rural community at the time, this kind of case could easily result in an respect killing that the young girl by her fiancé’s family.

Mary in danger

What couple of commentators seem to realize is that Mary’s visit come Elizabeth, around a hundreds miles away in Judea, may have been a desperate attempt by her household to conserve her from this fate, to get her out of the means until some solution had been operated out.

Leaving Galilee and traveling south, mar duly landed on Elizabeth’s residence in Judea after ~ a trip of around three or 4 days.

See Galilee to Jerusalem – scriptures Maps to map the path of this journey.

At very first glance, this can seem favor a commonplace event as 2 kinswomen, both pregnant, meet each other.

But Luke was making oblique referrals to Old testimony precedents, alerting the leader to a deeper meaning in Elizabeth’s story:


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Mary’s visitation come Anne, through Giotto


The songs of Elizabeth & Mary

The 2 pregnant females met, and also at that minute Elizabeth’s unborn baby responded by unexpectedly moving and also kicking in her womb.

Twenty-eight weeks, the finish of a woman’s second trimester, is the typical time to expect an unborn baby to kick in the womb, and also this might well have actually been the an initial time Elizabeth’s unborn baby moved – an exciting moment for any kind of mother.

She took this sudden movement, in ~ this certain moment, together a sign.

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In a moment of penetrating spirituality clarity, Elizabeth well-known she to be being saw by the mother of the expected Messiah. She pronounce a blessing top top the younger woman:

‘Blessed room you among women, and also blessed is the fruit of her womb. And why has actually this happened to me, the the mommy of my Lord pertains to me? because that as soon as ns heard the sound of your greeting, the boy in my womb leaped because that joy. And also blessed is she who thought that there would certainly be a fulfillment of what was talked to her by the Lord.’

Mary responded v the native of the song dubbed the Magnificat.

Scholars now guardedly say this to be a hymn sung by the early on Christians in your liturgies, implying the it may have had a composition date later than the moment of meeting in between the two mothers.

They also imply the an illiterate peasant girl native Galilee would certainly not have had actually the ability to create such a hymn.

Did mary really write the Magnificat?


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Mary and also Elizabeth, through Robert Anning Bell. Notice the point of view quietly watching from behind the curtain


But over there is no reason to think the Mary can not have been qualified of composing it herself. The Magnificat is closely based upon the track of Hannah in 2 Samuel 2:1-10, and also Mary must have known this track well.

She definitely would have known the song of Hannah by heart, because women at the time had a rich dental tradition, every one of it memorized, andshe would have thought the tune of Hannah appropriate, since Elizabeth’s pregnancy so late in life mirrored the pregnant of Hannah.

Adapting i from the Jewish scriptures to suit current cases was a familiar component of the dental tradition, and Mary and also her female relatives would have been familiar with this technique.

True, there is some evidence it was adjusted along the method before Luke translated it into Greek, but surely mar is the resource of this glorious song.

Elizabeth gives birth come John

It is not clear from the text whether Elizabeth had actually the aid of she young kinswoman once she offered birth to she baby. Commonsense and also the slide away of time would imply she did. Elizabeth would absolutely have been surrounding by loving, concerned relatives and also friends, especially because her progressed age must have actually made the a challenging birth.

Note: In ancient times, women hunched themselves end a feet hollowed in the ground, was standing on bricks or stones inserted at one of two people side. They provided birth in a squatting position, v relatives and also friends taking turns to support them under the arms. In the Roman human being there were special birthing chairs with a U-shaped hole in the seat and also supports for the feet and also back, but we have no way of understanding whether this latest medical technology had got to Roman-era Jerusalem. Childbirth in ancient times


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The Visitation, through Domenico Ghirlandaio


Elizabeth has actually a kid John

Luke 1:67-80

Elizabeth had a son, and also all she friends and relatives were overjoyed because that her. She appears to have recovered fine from the bear itself, due to the fact that eight days afterwards she to be up and also around, all set to attend the circumcision of her son.

A infant was usually called on the day of his circumcision, and a usual practice at this time was to surname a an initial son ~ his grandfather.


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An elderly mrs holding a brand-new baby – together Elizabeth did


In this instance however, Elizabeth’s prolonged family seemed to have decided that the baby would be referred to as Zechariah, ~ his stricken father.

But Elizabeth stepped forward and also briskly contradicted them. Her son’s name was to be ‘John’, she said.

Everyone disagreed v her, stating that there was no family precedent for the name ‘John’, however Elizabeth stood her ground.

She insisted therefore fiercely that, exasperated, the family members members turned come Zechariah for support. Since he can not speak, he asked because that a writing tablet – a little wooden tile through a wax surface. Through a stylus pen he scratched a solitary sentence: ‘His surname is John’.

Zechariah speaks

Immediately, to the amazement that the onlookers, the regained the usage of his speech and also hearing. A skeptic no more, his an initial words were in praise of God. The sound the his voice silenced even the many talkative of his neighbors.


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A modern-day take on the meeting in between Elizabeth and also Mary that Nazareth. The Visitation, by Dennis Creffield


They were awed and not a tiny frightened through what they were witnessing.

Like next-door neighbors everywhere, they can not wait to happen on the story that what had actually happened, and also discuss the meaning. The child of Elizabeth and also Zechariah must definitely be destined for greatness – ‘the hand of God was v him’, and he would be different and also unique.

Now the surname ‘John’ appeared appropriate, since without any family precedent, it offered him an identification of his very own that had actually nothing to do with the past.

Their assumption was cemented through the indigenous Zechariah now spoke. This little child would someday be a prophet the the many High, that said, preparing the way for the Messiah.

This step is the last we check out of Elizabeth. Through the criter of the time, she was currently elderly, and she might not have actually lived to view her son thrive to manhood.

What happened to Elizabeth’s son John?

It has often been said that John, explained as life in the wilderness (Luke 1:80), may have been a member of the Essenes in ~ Qumran. This group was recognized to adopt young children and look after them, hope they would end up being permanent members of their community.

If Elizabeth and also Zechariah were both elderly and died quickly after John’s birth, the Essenes may have done simply this for John.

If therefore they were disappointed, since John damaged away to build his very own ministry in the desert, preparing the method of the Lord.

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Elizabeth greets she cousin Mary, paint from the Duc de Berry’s book of Hours

Names in Elizabeth’s story

Elizabeth is Eli-sheba. It means ‘God’s promise’, or ‘my God is generous’.Mary means ‘wise woman’ or ‘lady’. It is a Greek form of the Hebrew Miriam or Mariamme, and also was the most famous woman’s name at the time of Jesus.John method ‘God has actually been gracious’.Zechariah way ‘God has remembered’.

The main ideas in Elizabeth’s story

In the Old Testament, God’s strength is often presented through a woman that prays and gives bear after anyone else has given up hope.Elizabeth significant her son as different when she insisted on a non-family name. This and the suddenly illness and also recovery of she husband Zechariah perplexed Elizabeth’s neighbors, yet she stood firm against a doubting community.Inspired through God, she knew john was a boy with a an excellent destiny.LEAPING because that JOY

A commentary on the Visitation through Fr. Gil Alinsangan

ln his infancy narratives Luke, both physician and also artist, supplies a style dubbed diptych, where 2 stories space presented in parallel panels for simpler comparison.

In his gospel, two birth narratives are being contrasted: the of john the Baptist and also that of Jesus. A quick look at the first two chapters the the Gospel that Luke reveals parallel story of annunciation, birth, circumcision and naming, witnesses of birth, and also growth.

The Visitation story in Luke’s gospel is distinct in the feeling that it is not presented in diptych. Luke breaks the pattern.

After concentrating on parallel events as they construct in separate scenes, Luke now brings the many important personalities together in one setting

we have actually Mary meeting Elizabeth (and Zechariah)but more importantly, the key protagonists — Jesus and John – meet even while both space still in the womb.

Underlined in today’s Gospel is the spirit of delight that sweeps v the setting like a longed-for December breeze top top a warm day in Australia. The Lord has come. This Lord now comes in the human of the infant yet to it is in born; therefore Elizabeth feeling privileged to be saw by Mary, the ‘mother of my Lord’.

Even man the Baptist leaps for joy. Luke will usage this same image when the writes about the delight of the shushben or “friend of the bridegroom” as soon as he hears the voice of the bridegroom (John 3:29).

ln the old world, the resulting a good ruler lugged rejoicing come the populace. Rome grandiosely proclaimed September 23, the date of birth of Emperor Augustus “the birthday of the god significant the start of the good news for the world”.

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Luke contradicts this propaganda through saying the it is the coming of Jesus the is the real good news and the cause of true ioy. The Baptist feels it while still in the womb. The herald angel will announce the on the night Jesus is born.