Luke 1

Visitation by Fra Angelico

Visitation by Fra Angelico (Photo credit: Edith OSB)

46 “My soul magnifies the Lord,
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

As a child, it never sounded quite right to me.  It seemed that Mary rejoiced in God because she would be famous forever.  That’s the disease of our modern world.  People stand behind television news cameras and wave, excited to be on TV.  A group of young men commit brutal acts and post it on you-tube.  We all write blogs.  We seem to be a generation that wants the whole world to watch us.  People are famous for being famous.  People like Einstein and John Glenn used to be the most famous names in the country, not Honey Boo Boo or some housewife from the Jersey shore.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

But Mary is not exulting in her newfound celebrity.  She is exulting in the work that God has chosen to do.  All generations will call her blessed because God will work an incomprehensible grace through her son.  She is not glad to be famous; she is glad that God is coming to save.

Simeon will remind us that “a sword will pierce” her heart.  It is no small thing to watch your child impaled on a cross and to see him pierced by the lance of an occupation soldier.  It is no small thing to see the crowd in his hometown synagogue want to throw him off a cliff.  Of course she comes with her boys to collect him, to save him from himself, to save him from the crowds.  She is not a saint; she is a mother, full of a mother’s fears.  And a mother’s tears.

But she rejoices.  She magnifies God.  Maybe on this night when she has been greeted by Elizabeth with such joy, maybe on this night she doesn’t yet see the sorrows to come.  Maybe on this night it is about joy and motherhood and God’s promised salvation.  Maybe on this night she can hear the laughter of those who no longer hunger.  Maybe on this night she hears the joyful cries of lepers healed and outcasts brought home.  Maybe on this night she hears the songs of the angels that heaven and earth are reconciled.  But she rejoices not in her new position; she rejoices in God.

Perhaps on those other days to come, the days of sorrow, her heart will not be quite so full.  But she will still magnify God, because her eyes are not on her self, but on the fulfillment of God’s promise to right the world.


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