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Luke 1:39-45(46-55) - Singing praise to a holy pregnancy

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In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.

When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord."

[And Mary said,

"My soul magnifies the Lord,

and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him

from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever."]


This is the Gospel selection that will be read aloud by a priest on the fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C, according to the lectionary for the Episcopal Church. If the whole reading is read, including the Song of Mary, it will follow an Old Testament reading from Micah, where the prophet wrote: “from you shall come forth for me one who is to rule in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from ancient days.” That will be followed by a singing of Psalm 80, which includes this verse: “Restore us, O God of hosts; show the light of your countenance, and we shall be saved.” That will be followed by a reading from Hebrews, where Paul wrote: “Then I said, 'See, God, I have come to do your will, O God' (in the scroll of the book it is written of me).”

In this selection, it is vital to know that the verses leading up to these verses tell of the angel Gabriel coming to Mary and telling her that she would deliver the “Son of God” (“Huios Theou”), while also telling her that her barren aunt (“relative” or “syngenis”) was already pregnant six months. This information was told divinely to Mary “Within now this month this sixth” (from “En de tō mēni tō hektō,” from verse 1:26a). That becomes an important timing statement – the sixth month.

This would refer to the liturgical calendar of the Jews, not the civil calendar, which matched the Roman calendar that began in January. The first month of the Hebrew year is always Nisan [March-April]. Because Gabriel told Mary “in the sixth month” that Elizabeth was “six months pregnant,” the angel visited her and Zechariah in the month of Nisan. Because the word “En” is capitalized, divinely elevating that word that means “Within” to a meaning related to Yahweh, “Within” Nisan could mean 7 Nisan, when the Israelites were inspecting their yearling lambs for sacrifice.

The sixth month, according to Nisan being the first month, is Elul, which is the equivalent in the Roman calendar to when the Sun is in the astrological sign of Virgo [Latin meaning “Virgin”]. If Gabriel came to Mary near the end of Elul, such that Elizabeth was in the sixth month of her pregnancy (but not yet a full six months, say155 days), then that says John would be full term in the middle of the tenth month [Tivet or Tebet], the equivalent to the tenth Roman month of December-January [“December” means “Tenth month”]. That becomes a hidden statement about the timing of the winter solstice, being when John the Baptist was born [not Jesus].

Missing from the NRSV translation is the capitalized first word of verse 39, which is “Anastasa” (“Ἀναστᾶσα”), which ordinarily translates as “having risen up” [aorist active participle, nominative singular feminine]. When capitalized the word takes on a divine level of meaning, where the word goes beyond saying, “Mary got our of bed” and says, “Mary’s soul was now elevated to the level of saint.” It says she no longer was ‘normal,’ as she was one truly chosen by Yahweh to receive His Spirit. The NRSV (and others) deny this word was written.

When the NRSV begins by saying, “In those days,” the truth of that written is this: “Anastasa de Mariam en tais hēmerais tautais”. This literally translates to say, “Having risen up now Mary inwardly these days those here”. By seeing the first word speaks of being divinely uplifted, the element of “days” should be seen as the inner presence of the light of truth within her body. The repeating of different words that could equally translate as “these” [“tais” and “tautais”] should be seen as reflecting on both Mary and Elizabeth, such that not only Mary felt this divine elevation within her body and soul, she also knew Elizabeth felt the same. While “days” can certainly be indications of the “days” a fetus takes to grow to delivery, and refer to two divine pregnancies at the same time, the light aspect must be read as inner truth now guiding Mary’s life.

When one realizes the appearance of Gabriel to Zechariah was not clearly stated to be in the Temple of Jerusalem, the least known sect of Israelite Jews was that of the Essenes; and, the temple they maintained was on Mount Carmel, which was beyond Galilee in the coastal hills that extend eastward and then southward through Samaria and Judea. Mount Carmel was a stronghold of the Essenes and closely related to Nazareth, where Mary would have lived. Rather than think a sixteen year old young woman took off in haste to go two day’s travel to Jerusalem, it makes more sense to see how she traveled less than ten miles, crossing a river that separated the valley from the hills.

When we read that Mary entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth, it is worthwhile to recall that Zechariah had laughed at Gabriel for telling him his barren ‘old lady’ was pregnant with a son. For that laugh, Gabriel made Zechariah mute, unable to speak; so, unless he was gabby on a chalkboard or something, Elizabeth knew she was pregnant; but she knew nothing about Mary (still a girl, an engaged virgin) being pregnant. So, when we read that Elizabeth was moved to say to Mary, “Blessed are you among women , kai blessed is the fruit of your womb .” This must be read as Elizabeth having a spiritual experience, where Yahweh’s Spirit moved Elizabeth to speak of things she knew nothing about. That was signaled by John (yet to be named) leaping in Elizabeth’s womb, where Yahweh was at work making John grow and develop.

Elizabeth said that when she heard the voice of Mary call her name, the fetus leaped within her. Gabriel had told Mary she was in possession of the Spirit; so, when she spoke the fetus of John (also blessed by the Spirit) heard the Spirit speaking. Then, the Spirit in John spoke to the soul of Elizabeth and had her immediately know that Mary was pregnant with a divine child, more divine that her baby. In essence, although Mary had just become pregnant [“Having risen up”], the two women brought two extensions of Yahweh’s Spirit together [two Yahweh elohim], so the Spirits began to converse. This is what overcame Zechariah when his voice returned, after John was born, circumcised and named.

What Mary heard Elizabeth say confirmed that her once barren aunt [“relative”] was indeed pregnant and clearly showing. For Mary being so young and unknowing of what pregnancy feels like, the voice of the Spirit within Elizabeth also confirmed that Mary was indeed pregnant. When Gabriel told her Elizabeth was pregnant with a son, she was happier for her aunt, than she was for herself. The haste in going to see Elizabeth was to both confirm her pregnancy and congratulate her, because Mary knew being barren was an onus Elizabeth had been forced to deal with a long time. Still, when the Spirit in Elizabeth spoke to Mary, in the same was Zechariah was moved to speak in song divinely, so too was Mary.

In the “Song of Mary,” also called Canticle 15 by the Episcopal Church [a.k.a. Mary Magnificat], it begins with the capitalized word “Megalynei,” which means “He Magnifies” or “He Increases” [in the third person singular]. This must be seen as related to the capitalized word written earlier by Luke: “Anastasa”. The two say “He Magnifies” my state of being, my “Having been uplifted Spiritually.” This aspect of “Spiritually” is then sung by Mary as “my soul.” The “He” is then identified as “this Lord,” where the capitalized word “Kyrion” cannot be mistaken for “Theos,” as Mary’s soul has become led by the soul of Jesus within her womb, so that divine soul was then leading Mary’s soul, as her “Lord.”

In verse 47 Mary then says her “spirit rejoices in God” (“Theō”), saying it has been God that delivered her the “Lord,” who is “the Savior of me” [a capitalized “Sōtēri”].

In verse 48, she thanks God for having done the same for Elizabeth, singing, “he las looked upon the humiliation of the handmaiden of him,” where it was Elizabeth’s “humiliation” [“tapeinōsin”] to have been barren. Mary then spoke for herself, singing praise that her son to be born would not only save her, but “all generations.”

Verse 49 then sings that all who take on the name of Yahweh [Israel, or Jesus] in divine marriage will also be made “holy” [“hagion”]. Verse 50 sings of all the “generations” to come, with their attraction to Yahweh in marriage will be how much they “fear” not having that source of comfort within their souls.

In verse 51, Mary sings about one’s soul becoming the “arm” of God, as she and Elizabeth had become. All “pride” had been sacrificed through marriage to Him, receiving His Spirit. The marriage of a soul to Spirit is why the soul is deemed as the “heart” [“kardias”]. That word in Greek also means “inner self, mind, character, and intention.”

Verse 52 sings that marriage to God is a demand of all souls, in order to be redeemed at death. Those who are “rulers” must lower their self-will to themselves becoming subjects of a much greater power – the King. Those who do humble themselves (as did David), letting Yahweh become the face they wear to the word (self-denial), they are raised spiritually. Mary “Having been raised” was just a humble teenager; but by submitting her soul to Yahweh, she then was the mother of Jesus.

The benefits of service to Yahweh are then sung about in verses 53 and 54. When she sang of “being filled with good things,” there are no “things” involved, as the word “agathos” means “good nature, intrinsically good.” As such, the presence of Yahweh brings “goodness” to one’s being, as one’s soul seeks to please God. The “fear” is losing that presence; and, that motivates continued love and worship. Those to seek to surround themselves with thing – “the rich” – their souls are left “empty” and unfulfilled.

In verse 54 when Mary sang of “Israel,” this is the name one takes as a wife of Yahweh. The name means: “One Who Retains Yahweh as His elohim.” Those are the souls being “helped,” because they are submitted to union with Yahweh, as His “servants.” They serve Him, not self. This love and devotion leading to a divine marriage will then forgive a soul-body for past mistakes and sins. Yahweh will no longer “remember” those deeds past, and the soul-wives will no longer “remember” any desires for self-pleasures.

Verse 55 then sings that this is nothing new, as Yahweh has married souls in the past, including the soul of Abraham and his “descendants” known in Holy Scripture. They are the models for those souls present; and, the souls present are the models to project forward into “all ages.”

After this song was completed, verse 56 says that Mary lived with Zechariah and Elizabeth for “about three months.” This timing would say Mary stayed to help Elizabeth deliver John. When six is added to three one gets nine, which is the term of a pregnancy. This means “about three months” would take the two women into the early days of the tenth month, with still a majority of days left in the sixth month. After Mary stayed to assist Elizabeth (she would have helped a midwife with experience), she returned to her home in Nazareth.

Clearly, as the Gospel reading to be read aloud on the fourth Sunday of Advent, with Christmas coming in a week or less, the call is to make hast to serve Yahweh as His wife, with His Son coming soon within one’s soul-flesh. The call is to sing praise to that presence. All it takes is self-sacrifice to be raised Spiritually.

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