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Zechariah his father, filled with the Holy Spirit, prophesied, saying:/ “Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel;/ for he has come to his people and set them free./ He has raised up for us a mighty Savior,/ born of the house of his servant David./ Through his prophets he promised of old/ that he would save us from our enemies,/ from the hands of all who hate us./ He promised to show mercy to our fathers/ and to remember his holy covenant./ This was the oath he swore to our father Abraham:/ to set us free from the hand of enemies,/ free to worship him without fear,/ holy and righteous in his sight all the days of our life./ You, my child, shall be called the prophet of the Most High,/ for you will go before the Lord to prepare his way,/ to give his people knowledge of salvation/ by the forgiveness of their sins./ In the tender compassion of our God/ the dawn from on high shall break upon us,/ to shine on those who dwell in darkness and shadow of death,/ and to guide our feet into the way of peace.”

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The birth of John

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When the time arrived for Elizabeth to have her child she gave birth to a son. Her neighbors and relatives heard that the Lord had shown his great mercy toward her, and they rejoiced with her. When they came on the eighth day to circumcise the child, they were going to call him Zechariah after his father, but his mother said in reply, “No. He will be called John.” But they answered her, “There is no one among your relatives who has this name.” So they made signs, asking his father what he wished him to be called. He asked for a tablet and wrote, “John is his name,” and all were amazed. Immediately his mouth was opened, his tongue freed, and he spoke blessing God. Then fear came upon all their neighbors, and all these matters were discussed throughout the hill country of Judea. All who heard these things took them to heart, saying, “What, then, will this child be?” For surely the hand of the Lord was with him.

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Mary visits Elizabeth

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Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

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In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.

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In the days of Herod, King of Judea, there was a priest named Zechariah… Once when he was serving as priest in his division’s turn before God… the angel of the Lord appeared to him, standing at the right of the altar of incense.

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The birth of Jesus

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This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:/ Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,/ and they shall name him Emmanuel,/ which means, “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

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