Once again we have the word ‘mercy’ in the account of John the Baptist’s birth, but in relation to Elisabeth: “the Lord had mercy on her”. (V.58). Her barrenness would have cast a shadow over her life, in a culture where childlessness was seen as a sign of sinfulness or disfavour with God. (v.24,25). That only compounded the sorrow of people who wanted children – and in this case were a godly couple!
Mary has noted God’s mercy on Israel. Now it becomes concrete: “mercy” is on this individual, on this couple. For Zechariah receives mercy, too, as his muteness ends and, in agreement with his wife, names their newborn son John.
” Mercy”. Aren’t you glad you received it? Maybe it’s time to have mercy on someone today: the man who cut you up in the traffic queue? The colleague who has messed up? The disobedient child? The spouse who lacks understanding? The cold and distant neighbour? The recalcitrant relative?
“Freely you have received, freely give.”