I apologize for the tardiness of this blog. It was supposed to be posted last week, but, alas, many things emerged which prevented that. I will be running silently for the next week or so but I wanted to get these wonderful Advent passages, especially the Magnificat, posted first.
I am not able to do anything myself. I judge just as I hear, and my judgment is righteous, because I do not seek my will but the will of the one who sent me. If I bear witness about myself, my testimony is not true. But if there is another who bears witness about me, he knows the testimony is true and is a witness about me. You have sent to John, and he has born witness to truth. But I myself do not receive from any man’s witness, but these things I say so that you may be saved. This one was a burning, shining lamp and you were willing for a little while to exult in his cry. But I myself have a greater witness than John, the works I have done by my Father so that I might complete them. These works I do testify about me that the Father has sent me. The Father who sent me has testified about me, neither have you heard his voice nor seen his likeness. His word you do not have abiding in you, because this one, this one you do not believe. Research the scriptures, so that you yourself suppose to have eternal life in them; these also testify about me. But you do not wish to come to me so that you may have life. I have not received glory from men. But I know you that the love of God you do not have in yourselves. I have come in the name of my Father, and you do not accept me. If another should come in his own name, this one you would accept. How are you able to trust in receive praise from one another and the praise from the only God you do not seek? Do not think that I myself will accuse you to the Father when the one accusing you is Moses, and he is the one you have hoped in. For if you believed in Moses, you would believe in me; it was about me Moses wrote! But if you do not believe the scripture, how will you believe in my words?
It happened in those days that Herod was king of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah from the Abijah division whose wife was from the daughter of Aaron and her name was Elizabeth. Now both of them were righteous before God, following all the commandments and pronouncements blamelessly. They had no children because Elizabeth was barren and they were both advanced in years. It came time for his scheduled service with his division before God. According to custom, he was chose by lot to be the priest who would go into the temple of the Lord and burn incense. All the multitude of the people was praying at the hour of the incense. But he saw an angel of the Lord standing at the right of the incense altar. He was troubled, and fear fell upon Zechariah. Then the angel said to him, “Do not fear, Zechariah, because your prayers have been heard. Your wife Elizabeth will give birth to your son and you will call his name John. He will be your joy and exultation and many will rejoice at his birth. For he will be great before the Lord, and wine and strong drink he may not drink. The Holy Spirit will fill him even from his mother’s womb. Many of the children of Israel will turn to the Lord their God. The spirit and power of Elijah will go before him, to return the hearts of parents to their children and to a knowledge of righteousness; to prepare a people to the Lord who have been prepared.” And Zechariah said to the angel, “How can anyone know this? For I myself am old and my wife is advanced in her days.” The Angel answered, he said to him, “I myself am Gabriel, the one standing before God and I have been sent to speak to you and to bring good news to you. Behold, you will be silent and not able to speak until these days are finished, because you did not believe my words, which will be fulfilled in due time.” And the people were waiting for Zechariah and marveled at the time he was in the sanctuary. Now when he came out he was unable to speak to them, and they knew he had seen a vision in the sanctuary. He was making signs to them and remained dumb. After his term of service was fulfilled, he returned to his house. After these days, Elizabeth, his wife, conceived and hid herself away five months saying, “That the Lord has acted in this way to me, he looked upon me to remove my shame among people.”
Now in the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city in Galilee named Nazareth to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph. He was from the house of David and the virgins name was Mary. Coming toward her he said, “Rejoice! Grace has been given to you. The Lord is with you.” Now at these words she was disturbed and wondered what kind of greeting this was. The angel said to her, “Do not fear, Mary, for you found grace from God. Behold, you yourself will conceive in the womb and bear a son and call his name Jesus. He will be great and a son of The Most High and the Lord will give to him the throne of David his father. He will reign upon the house of Jacob in this age and his reign will never end.” Now Mary said to the angel, “How is this, since I know no man?” The angel answered and said to her, “The Holy Spirit, he will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you, therefore the one born will be called Holy Son of God. And behold, your relative Elizabeth, who was called barren has conceived a son in her old age and is six months along because no word from God will be impossible.” Now Mary said, “Behold, I am a servant of the Lord; may it happen to me according to your word.” And the angel went away from her.
Now in those days Mary set out with haste to go to a city of Judea that was out in the highlands. She went to the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard the greeting from Mary, the baby in her womb jumped, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Then she called out loudly and said, “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how is this that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ear, the baby in my womb jumped in exultation. Happy is she who believed that the Lord will accomplish what he has told her.” And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit exults upon God my savior. That he saw the humility of his servant, for behold, from now on all generations will call me happy, for the Almighty did great things to me. Holy is his name. His mercy is given in generation after generation to those fearing him. He acted by his power and might, he scattered those who were arrogant in their own mind and heart. He deposed rulers from thrones and lifted up the humble. He filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty handed. He took in Israel as his child, remembering mercy, just as he said to our fathers, “In Abraham and in his seed forever.” Now Mary remained with her three months and then returned to her house.
Now when Elizabeth’s time came to give birth she had a son. Her relatives and all those living nearby heard that the Lord multiplied his mercy toward her and they rejoiced together. On the eighth day they went to circumcise the child and to name him by the name of his father, Zechariah. But the mother answered, saying “No, he will be called John.” They said to her that, “There is no one from your family called by that name.” Then his father nodded that was his wish as well. He asked for a writing tablet. He wrote saying, “His name is John.” Everyone marveled. Instantly his mouth and tongue now was opened and he spoke a blessing to God. Fear came upon everyone of those living nearby. The whole highlands of Judea kept talking about it. Everyone who heard about it took it to heart saying, “What is this child to be? For the hand of the Lord was with him.”