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bition but quietly to serve that God, whom she loved with all her heart.
Mary was so astonished that she asked the angel how these wonderful things could come to pass. The angel explained the mystery; and told her that her Holy Child should "be called the Son of God." He also said that her cousin Elizabeth would have a son. Mary was comforted by the words of the angel; and humbly replied: "Behold the handmaid of the Lord; be it unto me according to thy word." The angel then departed from her.
3. MARY VISITS ELIZABETH.
SOON after this Mary arose, and went quickly to the city in which her cousin Elizabeth dwelt, to tell her the joyful tidings; and to unite with her in praising the Lord for His mercy.
When Mary reached the city, she entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted her cousin Elizabeth. On hearing her speak, the pious Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost, Who made known to her the cause of Mary's visit. Full of respect and holy joy, she exclaimed, "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? And blessed is she that believed; for there shall be a performance of those things which were told her from the Lord."
Mary rejoiced at these words. She raised her heart towards heaven, and poured forth this hymn of praise, which has been used ever since in the Church of Christ :
My soul doth magnify the Lord : and my spirit hath rejoiced in God my
Saviour. For He hath regarded the lowliness of His handmaiden. For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed. For He that is mighty hath magnified me; and holy is His name. And His mercy is on them that fear Him, throughout all generations. He hath shewed strength with His arm; He hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts. He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and hath exalted the humble and meek. hath filled the hungry with good things; and the rich He hath sent empty away. He, remembering His mercy, hath holpen his servant Israel; as He promised to our forefathers, Abraham and his seed, for ever."
How simple and beautiful are these words, in which Mary celebrates the infinite good
ness and mercy of God! She speaks of the wonders of His providence; and her soul was filled with love to Him.
After remaining three months with her cousin, Mary returned home.
4. THE BIRTH OF JOHN.
THE time foretold by the angel had now come, when the son of Zacharias was to be born. Zacharias and Elizabeth received this child as a gift from God, and they were filled with gratitude to Him. When the relations and neighbours of Elizabeth heard of God's goodness to her, they came to rejoice with her. On the eighth day the child was to be circumcised, and to have a name. The friends called him Zacharias, after his father; but his mother said, "Not so; but he shall be called
John." They replied, "There is none of thy kindred that is called by this name." They then made signs to Zacharias, to know what name he would give his son. Zacharias could not speak, for he had been dumb ever since he disbelieved the angel's words. He then wrote, "His name is John." And the friends were all very much surprised. Directly after writing this, Zacharias was able to speak, and he praised God. He not only recovered his speech, but God enabled him to prophesy. Inspired by the Holy Ghost, this good man uttered this beautiful hymn, which is also sung
Blessed be the Lord God of Israel; for He hath visited and redeemed His people, and hath raised up an horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David; as He spake by the mouth of His holy prophets, which have been since