New American Bible (Revised Edition)
Mary Visits Elizabeth. 39 During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, 40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. 41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the holy Spirit,(A) 42 cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.(B) 43 And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord[a] should come to me? 44 For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. 45 Blessed are you who believed[b] that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”(C)
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;(E)
47 my spirit rejoices in God my savior.(F)
48 For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.(G)
49 The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.(H)
50 His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.(I)
51 He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.(J)
52 He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.(K)
53 The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.(L)
54 He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,(M)
55 according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”(N)
56 Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
The Birth of John.[d] 57 When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. 58 Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her.(O) 59 [e]When they came on the eighth day to circumcise(P) the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, 60 but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.”(Q) 61 But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” 62 So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. 63 He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. 64 Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God.(R) 65 Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. 66 All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.
The Canticle of Zechariah. 67 Then Zechariah his father, filled with the holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:
68 [f]“Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel,
for he has visited and brought redemption to his people.(S)
69 [g]He has raised up a horn for our salvation
within the house of David his servant,(T)
70 even as he promised through the mouth of his holy prophets from of old:
71 salvation from our enemies and from the hand of all who hate us,(U)
72 to show mercy to our fathers(V)
and to be mindful of his holy covenant(W)
73 and of the oath he swore to Abraham our father,(X)
and to grant us that, 74 rescued from the hand of enemies,
without fear we might worship him 75 in holiness and righteousness
before him all our days.(Y)
76 And you, child, will be called prophet of the Most High,
for you will go before the Lord[h] to prepare his ways,(Z)
77 to give his people knowledge of salvation
through the forgiveness of their sins,
78 because of the tender mercy of our God(AA)
by which the daybreak from on high[i] will visit us(AB)
79 to shine on those who sit in darkness and death’s shadow,
to guide our feet into the path of peace.”
80 The child grew and became strong in spirit, and he was in the desert until the day of his manifestation to Israel.(AC)Read full chapter
- 1:43 Even before his birth, Jesus is identified in Luke as the Lord.
- 1:45 Blessed are you who believed: Luke portrays Mary as a believer whose faith stands in contrast to the disbelief of Zechariah (Lk 1:20). Mary’s role as believer in the infancy narrative should be seen in connection with the explicit mention of her presence among “those who believed” after the resurrection at the beginning of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 1:14).
- 1:46–55 Although Mary is praised for being the mother of the Lord and because of her belief, she reacts as the servant in a psalm of praise, the Magnificat. Because there is no specific connection of the canticle to the context of Mary’s pregnancy and her visit to Elizabeth, the Magnificat (with the possible exception of v 48) may have been a Jewish Christian hymn that Luke found appropriate at this point in his story. Even if not composed by Luke, it fits in well with themes found elsewhere in Luke: joy and exultation in the Lord; the lowly being singled out for God’s favor; the reversal of human fortunes; the fulfillment of Old Testament promises. The loose connection between the hymn and the context is further seen in the fact that a few Old Latin manuscripts identify the speaker of the hymn as Elizabeth, even though the overwhelming textual evidence makes Mary the speaker.
- 1:57–66 The birth and circumcision of John above all emphasize John’s incorporation into the people of Israel by the sign of the covenant (Gn 17:1–12). The narrative of John’s circumcision also prepares the way for the subsequent description of the circumcision of Jesus in Lk 2:21. At the beginning of his two-volume work Luke shows those who play crucial roles in the inauguration of Christianity to be wholly a part of the people of Israel. At the end of the Acts of the Apostles (Acts 21:20; 22:3; 23:6–9; 24:14–16; 26:2–8, 22–23) he will argue that Christianity is the direct descendant of Pharisaic Judaism.
- 1:59 The practice of Palestinian Judaism at this time was to name the child at birth; moreover, though naming a male child after the father is not completely unknown, the usual practice was to name the child after the grandfather (see Lk 1:61). The naming of the child John and Zechariah’s recovery from his loss of speech should be understood as fulfilling the angel’s announcement to Zechariah in Lk 1:13, 20.
- 1:68–79 Like the canticle of Mary (Lk 1:46–55) the canticle of Zechariah is only loosely connected with its context. Apart from Lk 1:76–77, the hymn in speaking of a horn for our salvation (Lk 1:69) and the daybreak from on high (Lk 1:78) applies more closely to Jesus and his work than to John. Again like Mary’s canticle, it is largely composed of phrases taken from the Greek Old Testament and may have been a Jewish Christian hymn of praise that Luke adapted to fit the present context by inserting Lk 1:76–77 to give Zechariah’s reply to the question asked in Lk 1:66.
- 1:69 A horn for our salvation: the horn is a common Old Testament figure for strength (Ps 18:3; 75:5–6; 89:18; 112:9; 148:14). This description is applied to God in Ps 18:3 and is here transferred to Jesus. The connection of the phrase with the house of David gives the title messianic overtones and may indicate an allusion to a phrase in Hannah’s song of praise (1 Sm 2:10), “the horn of his anointed.”
- 1:76 You will go before the Lord: here the Lord is most likely a reference to Jesus (contrast Lk 1:15–17 where Yahweh is meant) and John is presented as the precursor of Jesus.
- 1:78 The daybreak from on high: three times in the LXX (Jer 23:5; Zec 3:8; 6:12), the Greek word used here for daybreak translates the Hebrew word for “scion, branch,” an Old Testament messianic title.