And it came to pass, that, when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit:
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Augustine of Hippo
We see instances of leaping not only in children but even in animals, although certainly not for any faith or religion or rational recognition of someone coming. But this case stands out as utterly uncommon and new, because it took place in a womb, and at the coming of her who was to bring forth the Savior of humankind. Therefore this leaping, this greeting, so to speak, offered to the mother of the Lord is miraculous. It is to be reckoned among the great signs. It was not effected by human means by the infant, but by divine means in the infant, as miracles are usually wrought.
And it came to Pass when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, &c. Notice with S. Ambrose, that Elizabeth was the first to hear the salutation of Mary but John was the first to perceive the spirit and effect of her salutation; for to him, as the future forerunner of Christ, this salutation of the Virgin, yea, even of Christ, was chiefly directed. Theophylact says, "The voice of the Virgin was the voice of God incarnate in her."
It is a question here whether the leaping of John for joy (Vulgate exultavit, Greek ÎÏƒÎºÎ¯Î¶Ï„Î·ÏƒÎµ) was a natural or rational movement. Calvin thinks that it was only a natural one; but all the Fathers and Orthodox Doctors are of a contrary opinion. Origen says, "Then first Jesus made His forerunner a prophet," and Irenæus (lib3 c18) says, "He recognised the Lord in the womb, and leaping for joy saluted Him." And S. Gregory (lib3Moral. c5). "In his mother"s womb he was filled with the spirit of prophecy." So a1so S. Cyril, S. Ambrose, S. Chrysostom. All t...
Also in the Gospel according to Luke: "And it came to pass, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leaped in her womb; and she was filled with the Holy Spirit, 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 does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? "
John jumped for joy to make an announcement concerning his future preaching. The infant of the barren woman exulted before the infant of the virgin. He sought out his mother’s tongue and desired to pronounce a prophecy concerning the Lord. Therefore Elizabeth’s conception was kept hidden from Mary for six months, until the infant would have limbs sufficiently formed to exult before the Lord with his jumping and become a witness to Mary through his exultation. Moreover, that he exulted in the womb of his mother was not of himself, nor because of his five months, but so that the divine gifts might show themselves in the barren womb that was now carrying him. It was also so that the other womb, that of the Virgin, would know the great gifts given to Elizabeth, and that the two soils might believe in the seeds they had received through the word of Gabriel, cultivator of both grounds. Since John could not cry out in his exultation and render witness to his Lord, his mother began to say, “Yo...
And thereafter she journeyed diligently to her relation Elisabeth in the hill-country. "And she entered into the house of Zacharias, and saluted Elisabeth".
"And it came to pass, that, when Elisabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the babe leapt with joy in her womb; and Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit."
Not yet born, already John prophesies and, while still in the enclosure of his mother’s womb, confesses the coming of Christ with movements of joy—since he could not do so with his voice. As Elizabeth says to holy Mary, “As soon as you greeted me, the child in my womb exulted for joy.” John exults, then, before he is born. Before his eyes can see what the world looks like, he can recognize the Lord of the world with his spirit. In this regard, I think that the prophetic phrase is appropriate: “Before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you came forth from the womb I sanctified you.” Thus we ought not to marvel that after Herod put him in prison, he continued to announce Christ to his disciples from his confinement, when even confined in the womb he preached the same Lord by his movements.
However, even these have life, each of them in his mother's womb. Elizabeth exults with joy, (for) John had leaped in her womb;.
Therefore even Elisabeth must be silent although she is carrying in her womb the prophetic babe, which was already conscious of his Lord, and is, moreover, filled with the Holy Spirit.