The Magnificat is aptly named. Mary’s words offer a magnificent declaration of the nature of the Holy One who is intimately involved with our humanity. It’s a song in honor of the Unmoved Mover who shatters the illusions of the self-sufficient and flips the pyramids of power and the pharaohs who build them upside down. Mary gives voice to the freedom song of Christians throughout the centuries.
This scriptural song and proclamation also represents performative speech. It helps accomplish what it describes—language that does what it says. And we could apply the term that Michel Foucault uses to Mary’s song: parrhesia. The term comes from the Greek and means “fearless speech.”
Four conditions identify this scripture-song as fearless speech. First, it tells the truth. Second, the speaker risks real danger in speaking the truth. Third, the declaration contains criticism of the unjust situation and those who profit from an oppressive status quo. Last, the speaker/singer understands that she speaks from a calling, a sense of duty. So truth, danger, criticism, and duty are all conditions of this fearless speech.
In addition, this young, soon-to-be mother isn’t trying to convince her community to believe what she’s saying by using powerful images or persuasive arguments. Mary means what she says and is saying what she means. She believes that the Holy One is with her, and the world will never be the same.

When did the Holy Spirit empower you to stand by the word of God within you?

Pray the Scriptures Using Audio Lectio
Read Matthew 11:2-11

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Lectionary Week
December 5–11, 2016
Scripture Overview

These readings convey that God’s coming, or the coming of the Messiah, will be profoundly transforma- tive. The promises of messianic possibility work against our exhaustion, our despair, and our sense of being subject to fate. The psalm provides a comprehensive summary of the miracles wrought by God in the past to make new life possible. Jesus’ life and ministry embodied these large expectations of Israel. The prophetic oracle, psalm, and Gospel reading all move toward the practicality of the epistle reading, which demands that we allow this claim of new human possibility to permeate all of life. Our life is directed to the reality of God, the very God whom we dis- cern in our present and to whom we entrust our future.

Questions and Suggestions for Reflection

• Read Isaiah 35:1-10. Where in your life do you feel that you have gone astray? After you realize you are lost, how do you return to the way that is God?
• Read Luke 1:47-55. When have you spoken fearlessly about a situation in your life?
• Read James 5:7-10. For what do you thirst?
• Read Matthew 11:2-11. What characteristics draw you to a
spiritual leader?

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