Today is the celebration of the Feast of St. Mary the Virgin—commemorating Mary, the mother of Jesus. It tells some of the story of the visit she made to her elderly cousin Elizabeth, who was herself miraculously with child.
At the sound of Mary's voice on arrival, Elizabeth reported that her baby "leaped in the womb"—a sign to her that someone very special had just arrived. Elizabeth's greeting was a prophecy which began with a quote from another prophetic song. "Blessed are you among women" (Judges 5:24), is what prophet and judge Deborah sang about Jael—the woman who craftily killed Israel's enemy Sisera (Judges 4:17-23).
Mary answered with her own prophetic "song" (Luke 1:46-55) which roughly echoes Hannah's song (1 Samuel 2:1-10).
Three months later when John the Baptist was born, his father Zacharias broke his silence with his own prophetic outburst (Luke 1:67-79). It too is full of Old Testament references.
- “Blessed is the Lord God of Israel," from Luke 1:68 recalls "Blessed be the LORD God of Israel" from 1 Kings 1:48
- and "He has visited His people" (same verse) the words “I have surely visited you" from Exodus 3:16.
- The words "And has raised up a horn of salvation for us in the house of His servant David" (Luke 1:69) reflects the thinking of Psalm 132:17. And there are more.
Still later after the birth of Jesus, old Simeon came to Joseph, Mary and the baby in the temple during Jesus' presentation and blessed the child with another prophetic message (Luke 2:29-32). His blessing also contains allusions to Old Testament scripture (for example his words: "For my eyes have seen Your salvation" (Luke 2:30) remind us of "And all the ends of the earth shall see the salvation of our God" from Isaiah 52:10.
An endnote in my Bible says, "Note… how the new era is signaled by the renewal of the gift of prophecy, which has been dormant. The various prophecies and songs of these two chapters reflect the best of Old Testament piety and prophecy" - J. Lyle Story, New Spirit Filled Life Bible p. 1386
What impresses me about these prophecies is how loaded they are with scripture. The speakers, from teenaged Mary to elderly Simeon, had obviously saturated themselves with the psalms and prophets. Which brings me to ask myself -- how familiar am I with scripture? Do I know it well enough for the Holy Spirit to bring it to mind during prayer or in a time when I need to encourage myself or others (in prophecy)?
PRAYER: Dear God, please help me to intentionally fill my mind with the stuff of Your word. Amen.
MORE: Scripture Memorization
- What scriptures do you know "cold"? For me this would include verses like John 3:16; Romans 3:23; Romans 6:23, Isaiah 53:6, Philippians 4:6-7; Psalm 23; the Lord's Prayer.
- What scriptures would you like to know?
- Do a scripture memory project:
2. Choose one and write the words of that verse or passage on a file card.
3. Spend 10 minutes a day (use a kitchen timer) memorizing them.
4. Over time, commit all your favourite passages to memory this way.
What methods of memorizing Bible passages have you found useful?
Feast of Saint Mary the Virgin:The liturgy for today's comemoration of Mary, Jesus' mother begins with this collect:
O God, you have taken to yourself the blessed Virgin Mary, mother of your incarnate Son: Grant that we, who have been redeemed by his blood, may share with her the glory of your eternal kingdom; through Jesus Christ our Lord, who lives and reigns with you, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever. Amen.
Unless otherwise noted all Scripture quotations are taken from the New King James Version®. Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. Used by permission. All rights reserved.