At that time, Mary rising up, went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary, and saluted Elizabeth. And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: and she cried out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord; and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
Verse 38. Behold the handmaid. With all modesty and humility of heart and mind, the blessed Virgin consented to the divine will: and from that moment in her was conceived the Saviour and Redeemer of the world. Wi. — Thus ought the virgin, who brought forth meekness and humility itself, to shew forth an example of the most profound humility. S. Amb.
Verse 39. This city is generally supposed to be Hebron, a sacerdotal town, (Jos. xxi. 11.) situated in the mountains, to the south of Juda, and about 120 miles from Nazareth. V.
Verse 41. The infant leaped in her womb. According to the general opinion of the interpreters, this motion of the child at the time was not natural: and some think that God gave to S. John, even in his mother’s womb, a passing knowledge of the presence of his Redeemer. See S. Aug. in the above cited letter to Dardanus. Wi.
Verse 42. In the same words she is pronounced blessed by Elizabeth, and by the angel Gabriel, both inspired by the Holy Ghost, and this not only to the praise of Jesus, but for his sake, to the praise of Mary, calling her blessed, and her fruit blessed; and thus, as Ven. Bede asserts, holding her up to the veneration of both men and angels.
Verse 43. The mother of my Lord. A proof that Christ was truly God, and the blessed Virgin Mary truly the mother of God. Wi. — Elizabeth was a just and blessed woman; yet the excellency of the mother of God does so far surpass that of Elizabeth, and of every other woman, as the great luminary outshines the smaller stars. S. Jerom præf. in Sophon.
Verse 47. In God my Saviour, as appears by the Greek text, though literally in Latin, in God my salvation. Wi.
719: Errors of Peter de Rivo (concerning the Truth of Future Contingencies)
SIXTUS IV 1471-1484 Condemned in the Bull "Ad Christi vicarii," Jan. 3, 1474
(1) When Elizabeth spoke to the Blessed Virgin Mary saying: “Blessed art thou that hast believed because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord” [Luke 1:45], she seemed to intimate that those propositions, namely: “Thou shalt bring forth a son and thou shalt call his name Jesus: He shall be great, etc.” [Luke 1:31], do not yet contain truth.
36. And, behold, thy cousin Elisabeth, she hath also conceived a son in her old age: and this is the sixth month with her, who was called barren. 37. For with God nothing shall be impossible. 38. And Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word. And the angel departed from her.
CHRYSOSTOM. (49 in Gen.) Seeing that his previous words had overcome the mind of the virgin, the angel drops his discourse to a humbler subject, persuading her by reference to sensible things. Hence he says, And, behold, Elisabeth thy cousin, &c. Mark the discretion of Gabriel; he did not remind her of Sarah, or Rebecca, or Rachel, because they were examples of ancient times, but he brings forward a recent event, that he might the more forcibly strike her mind. For this reason also he noticed the age, saying, She also hath conceived a son in her old age; and the natural infirmity also. As it follows, And this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For not immediately at the beginning of Elisabeth’s conception did he make this announcement, but after the space of six months, that the swelling of her womb might confirm its truth.
GREGORY NAZIANZEN. (Carm. 18. de Geneal. Christi.) But some one will ask, How is Christ related to David, since Mary sprang from the blood of Aaron, the angel having declared Elisabeth to be her kinswoman? But this was brought about by the Divine counsel, to the end that the royal race might be united to the priestly stock; that Christ, Who is both King and Priest, might be descended from both according to the flesh. For it is written, that Aaron, the first High Priest according to the law, took from the tribe of Judah for his wife Elisabeth, the daughter of Aminadab. (Exod. 6:23.) And observe the most holy administration of the Spirit, in ordering that the wife of Zacharias should be called Elisabeth, so bringing us back to that Elisabeth whom Aaron married.
BEDE. So it was then, lest the virgin should despair of being able to bear a son, that she received the example of one both old and barren about to bring forth, in order that she might learn that all things are possible with God, even those which seem to be opposed to the order of nature. Whence it follows, For there shall be no word (verbum) impossible with God.
CHRYSOSTOM. For the Lord of nature can do all things as He will, Who executes and disposes all things, holding the reins of life and death.
AUGUSTINE. (contra Faust. l. xxvi. c. 5.) But whoever says, “If God is omnipotent, let Him cause those things which have been done to have not been done,” does not perceive that he says, “Let Him cause those things which are true, in that very respect in which they are true to be false.” For He may cause a thing not to be which was, as when He makes a man who began to be by birth, not to be by death. But who can say that He makes not to be that which no longer is in being? For whatever is past is no longer in being. But if aught can happen to a thing, that thing is still in being to which any thing happens, and if it is, how is it past? Therefore that is not in being which we have truly said has been, because the truth is, in our opinions, not in that thing which no longer is. But this opinion God can not make false; and we do not so call God omnipotent as supposing also that He could die. He plainly is alone truly called omnipotent, who truly is, and by whom alone that is, whatever in any wise exists, whether spirit or body.
AMBROSE. Behold now the humility, the devotion of the virgin. For it follows, But Mary said, Behold the handmaid of the Lord. She calls herself His handmaid, who is chosen to be His mother, so far was she from being exalted by the sudden promise. At the same time also by calling herself handmaid, she claimed to herself in no other way the prerogative of such great grace than that she might do what was commanded her. For about to bring forth One meek and lowly, she was bound herself to shew forth lowliness. As it follows, Be it unto me according to thy word. You have her submission, you see her wish. Behold the handmaid of the Lord, signifies the readiness of duty. Be it unto me according to thy word, the conception of the wish.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Geometer.) Some men will highly extol one thing, some another, in these words of the virgin. One man, for example, her constancy, another her willingness of obedience; one man her not being tempted by the great and glorious promises of the great archangel; another, her self-command in not giving an instant assent, equally avoiding both the heedlessness of Eve and the disobedience of Zacharias. But to me the depth of her humility is an object no less worthy of admiration
GREGORY. (sup.) Through an ineffable sacrament of a holy conception and a birth inviolable, agreeable to the truth of each nature, the same virgin was both the handmaid and mother of the Lord.
BEDE. Having received the consent of the virgin, the angel soon returns heavenward, as it follows, And the angel departed from her.
EUSEBIUS. (vel Geometer.) Not only having obtained what he wished, but wondering at her virgin beauty, and the ripeness of her virtue.
39. And Mary arose in those days, and went into the hill country with haste, into a city of Juda; 40. And entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth. 41. And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost: 42. And she spake out with a loud voice, and said, Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. 43. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? 44. For, lo, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded in my ears, the babe leaped in my womb for joy. 45. And blessed is she that believed: for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord.
AMBROSE. The Angel, when he announced the hidden mysteries to the Virgin, that he might build up her faith by an example, related to her the conception of a barren woman. When Mary heard it, it was not that she disbelieved the oracle, or was uncertain about the messenger, or doubtful of the example, but rejoicing in the fulfilment of her wish, and consicentious in the observance of her duty, she gladly went forth into the hill country. For what could Mary now, filled with God, (plena Deo) but ascend into the higher parts with haste!
ORIGEN. For Jesus who was in her womb hastened to sanctify John, still in the womb of his mother. Whence it follows, with haste.
AMBROSE. The grace of the Holy Spirit knows not of slow workings. Learn, ye virgins, not to loiter in the streets, nor mix in public talk.
THEOPHYLACT. She went into the mountains, because Zacharias dwelt there. As it follows, To a city of Juda, and entered into the house of Zacharias. Learn, O holy women, the attention which ye ought to shew for your kinswomen with child. For Mary, who before dwelt alone in the secret of her chamber, neither virgin modesty caused to shrink from the public gaze, nor the rugged mountains from pursuing her purpose, nor the tediousness of the journey from performing her duty. Learn also, O virgins, the lowliness of Mary. She came a kinswoman to her next of kin, the younger to the elder, nor did she merely come to her, but was the first to give her salutations; as it follows, And she saluted Elisabeth. For the more chaste a virgin is, the more humble she should be, and ready to give way to her elders. Let her then be the mistress of humility, in whom is the profession of chastity. Mary is also a cause of piety, in that the higher went to the lower, that the lower might be assisted, Mary to Elisabeth, Christ to John.
CHRYSOSTOM. (Hom. iv. in Matt.) Or else the Virgin kept to herself all those things which have been said, not revealing them to any one, for she did not believe that any credit would be given to her wonderful story; nay, she rather thought she would suffer reproach if she told it, as if wishing to screen her own guilt.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Geometer.) But to Elisabeth alone she has recourse, as she was wont to do from their relationship, and other close bonds of union.
AMBROSE. But soon the blessed fruits of Mary’s coming and our Lord’s presence are made evident. For it follows, And it came to pass, that when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb. Mark the distinction and propriety of each word. Elisabeth first heard the word, but John first experienced the grace. She heard by the order of nature, he leaped by reason of the mystery. She perceived the coming of Mary, he the coming of the Lord.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Geometer.) For the Prophet sees and hears more acutely than his mother, and salutes the chief of Prophets; but as he could not do this in words, he leaps in the womb, which was the greatest token of his joy. Who ever heard of leaping at a time previous to birth? Grace introduced things to which nature was a stranger. Shut up in the womb, the soldier acknowledged his Lord and King soon to be born, the womb’s covering being no obstacle to the mystical sight.
ORIGEN. (vid. etiam Tit. Bos.) He was not filled with the Spirit, until she stood near him who bore Christ in her womb. Then indeed he was both filled with the Spirit, and leaping imparted the grace to his mother; as it follows, And Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. But we cannot doubt that she who was then filled with the Holy Spirit, was filled because of her son.
AMBROSE. She who had hid herself because she conceived a son, began to glory that she carried in her womb a prophet, and she who had before blushed, now gives her blessing; as it follows, And she spake out with a loud voice, Blessed art thou among women. With a loud voice she exclaimed when she perceived the Lord’s coming, for she believed it to be a holy birth. But she says, Blessed art thou among women. For none was ever partaker of such grace or could be, since of the one Divine seed, there is one only parent.
BEDE. Mary is blessed by Elisabeth with the same words as before by Gabriel, to shew that she was to be reverenced both by men and angels.
THEOPHYLACT. But because there have been other holy women who yet have borne sons stained with sin, she adds, And blessed is the fruit of thy womb. Or another interpretation is, having said, Blessed art thou among women, she then, as if some one enquired the cause, answers, And blessed is the fruit of thy womb: as it is said, Blessed be he that cometh in the name of the Lord. The Lord God, and he hath shewed us light; (Ps. 118:26, 27.) for the Holy Scriptures often use and, instead of because.
TITUS BOSTRENSIS. Now she rightly calls the Lord the fruit of the virgin’s womb, because He proceeded not from man, but from Mary alone. For they who are sown by their fathers are the fruits of their fathers.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Geometer.) This fruit alone then is blessed, because it is produced without man, and without sin.
BEDE. This is the fruit which is promised to David, Of the fruit of thy body will I set upon thy throne. (Ps. 132:11.)
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Severus.) From this place we derive the refutation of Eutyches, in that Christ is stated to be the fruit of the womb. For all fruit is of the same nature with the tree that bears it. It remains then that the virgin was also of the same nature with the second Adam, who takes away the sins of the world. But let those also who invent curious fictions concerning the flesh of Christ, blush when they hear of the real child-bearing of the mother of God. For the fruit itself proceeds from the very substance of the tree. Where too are those who say that Christ passed through the virgin as water through an aqueduct? Let these consider the words of Elisabeth who was filled with the Spirit, that Christ was the fruit of the womb. It follows, And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
AMBROSE. She says it not ignorantly, for she knew it was by the grace and operation of the Holy Spirit that the mother of the prophet should be saluted by the mother of his Lord, to the advancement and growth of her own pledge; but being aware that this was of no human deserving, but a gift of Divine grace, she therefore says, Whence is this to me, that is, By what right of mine, by what that I have done, for what good deeds?
ORIGEN. (non occ. vide Theoph. et. Tit. Bost.) Now in saying this, she coincides with her son. For John also felt that he was unworthy of our Lord’s coming to him. But she gives the name of “the mother of our Lord” to one still a virgin, thus forestalling the event by the words of prophecy. Divine foreknowledge brought Mary to Elisabeth, that the testimony of John might reach the Lord. For from that time Christ ordained John to be a prophet. Hence it follows, For, to, as soon as the voice of thy salutation sounded, &c.
AUGUSTINE. (Epist. ad Dardanum 57.) But in order to say this, as the Evangelist has premised, she was filled with the Holy Spirit, by whose revelation undoubtedly she knew what that leaping of the child meant; lamely, that the mother of Him had come unto her, whose forerunner and herald that child was to be. Such then night be the meaning of so great an event; to be known indeed by grown up persons, but not understood by a little child; for she said not, “The babe leaped in faith in my womb,” but leaped for joy. Now we see not only children leaping for joy, but even the cattle; not surely from any faith or religious feeling, or any rational knowledge. But this joy was strange and unwonted, for it was in the womb; and at the coming of her who was to bring forth the Saviour of the world. This joy, therefore, and as it were reciprocal salutation to the mother of the Lord, was caused (as miracles are) by Divine influences in the child, not in any human way by him. For even supposing the exercise of reason and the will had been so far advanced in that child, as that he should be able in the bowels of his mother to know, believe, and assent; yet surely that must be placed among the miracles of Divine power, not referred to human examples.
THEOPHYLACT. The mother of our Lord had come to see Elisabeth, as also the miraculous conception, from which the Angel had told her should result the belief of a far greater conception, to happen to herself; and to this belief the words of Elisabeth refer, And blessed art thou who hast believed, for there shall be a performance of those things which were told thee from the Lord.
AMBROSE. You see that Mary doubted not but believed, and therefore the fruit of faith followed.
BEDE. Nor is it to be wondered at, that our Lord, about to redeem the world, commenced His mighty works with His mother, that she, through whom the salvation of all men was prepared, should herself be the first to reap the fruit of salvation from her pledge.
AMBROSE. But happy are ye also who have heard and believed, for whatever soul hath believed, both conceives and brings forth the word of God, and knows His works.
BEDE. But every soul which has conceived the word of God in the heart, straightway climbs the lofty summits of the virtues by the stairs of love, so as to be able to enter into the city of Juda, (into the citadel of prayer and praise, and abide as it were for three months in it,) to the perfection of faith, hope, and charity.
GREGORY. (super Ezech. lib. i. Hom. i. 8.) She was touched with the spirit of prophecy at once, both as to the past, present, and future. She knew that Mary had believed the promises of the Angel; she perceived when she gave her the name of mother, that Many was carrying in her womb the Redeemer of mankind; and when she foretold that all things would be accomplished, she saw also what was to follow in the future.
46. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord.
AMBROSE. As evil came into the world by a woman, so also is good introduced by women; and so it seems not without meaning, that both Elisabeth prophesies before John, and Mary before the birth of the Lord. But it follows, that as Mary was the greater person, so she uttered the fuller prophecy.
BASIL. (in Psalm 33) For the Virgin, with lofty thoughts and deep penetration, contemplates the boundless mystery, the further she advances, magnifying God; And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Athanasius.) As if she said, Marvellous things hath the Lord declared that He will accomplish in my body, but neither shall my soul be unfruitful before God. It becomes me to offer Him the fruit also of my will, for inasmuch as I am obedient to a mighty miracle, am I bound to glorify Him who performs His mighty works in me.
ORIGEN. Now if the Lord could neither receive increase or decrease, what is this that Mary speaks of, My soul doth magnify (magnificat) the Lord? But if I consider that the Lord our Saviour is the image of the invisible God, and that the soul is created according to His image, so as to be an image of an image, then I shall see plainly, that as after the manner of those who are accustomed to paint images, each one of us forming his soul after the image of Christ, makes it great or little, base or noble, after the likeness of the original; so when I have made my soul great in thought, word, and deed, the image of God is made great, and the Lord Himself, whose image it is, is magnified in my soul.
47. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
BASIL. (ubi sup.) The first-fruit of the Spirit is peace and joy. Because then the holy Virgin had drunk in all the graces of the Spirit, she rightly adds, And my spirit hath leaped for joy. (exultavit.) She means the same thing, soul and spirit. But the frequent mention of leaping for joy in the Scriptures implies a certain bright and cheerful state of mind in those who are worthy. Hence the Virgin exults in the Lord with an unspeakable springing (and bounding) of the heart for joy, and in the breaking forth into utterance of a noble affection. It follows, in God my Saviour.
BEDE. Because the spirit of the Virgin rejoices in the eternal Godhead of the same Jesus. (i. e. the Saviour,) whose flesh is formed in the womb by a temporal conception.
AMBROSE. The soul of Mary therefore magnifies the Lord, and her spirit rejoiced in God, because with soul and spirit devoted to the Father and the Son, she worships with a pious affection the one God from whom are all things. But let every one have the spirit of Mary, so that he may rejoice in the Lord. If according to the flesh there is one mother of Christ, yet, according to faith, Christ is the fruit of all. For every soul receives the word of God if only he be unspotted and free from sin, and preserves it with unsullied purity.
THEOPHYLACT. But he magnifies God who worthily follows Christ, and now that he is called Christian, lessens not the glory of Christ by acting unworthily, but does great and heavenly things; and then the Spirit (that is, the anointing of the Spirit) shall rejoice, (i. e. make him to prosper,) and shall not be withdrawn, so to say, and put to death.
BASIL. (ubi sup.) But if at any time light shall have crept into his heart, and loving God and despising bodily things he shall have gained the perfect standing of the just, without any difficulty shall he obtain joy in the Lord.
ORIGEN. But the soul first magnifies the Lord, that it may afterwards rejoice in God; for unless we have first believed, we can not rejoice.