mary and elizabethThis Sunday we mark the day when Jesus is baptized, to “fulfill all righteousness” (Matthew 3).  Some forget that Jesus and John are related.  When the angel Gabriel informs Mary that she is to be the Mother of God, he also tells her of her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the  Baptist.

After Mary gives her famous consent to becoming the Mother of  God, — “Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it done to me according to  thy word” (Luke 1:38) — she goes “with haste” (1:39) to help Elizabeth, who is delighted to see her. Mary then expresses her joy in the Magnificat.

My soul magnifies the Lord And my spirit rejoices in God my Savior; Because He has regarded the lowliness of His handmaid; For behold, henceforth all generations shall call me blessed; Because He who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name; And His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him. He has shown might with His arm, He has scattered the proud in the conceit of their heart. He has put down the mighty from their thrones, and has exalted the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich He has sent away empty. He has given help to Israel, his servant, mindful of His mercy Even as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his posterity forever.

Two things have struck me every time I read this beautiful statement of faith – one is Mary’s grasp of the Scriptures; she obviously knew her Bible because she has taken much of this from memory of Old Testament passages.  The second thing is the universality of the message.  “All generations” and from “generation to generation” mark the fact that this birth is for all and we are still celebrating Mary’s song and her baby centuries later.  Whether the generation to follow will follow is another question.  Do they or will they believe that this birth is for them?