Elizabeth blesses Mary who “believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord” (Luke 1:45). Mary’s response is now a great liturgical canticle, the Magnificat. Mary interprets and then praises God for what is happening. She magnifies and rejoices about what God has done for her. She describes God’s action on behalf of others. The verbs highlight divine activity and preference: God has mercy, shows strength, scatters, brings down, lifts up, fills, sends away, and helps the marginalized, downtrodden, and suffering. We could relate many biblical narratives that exemplify each action, each “according to the promises [God] made.” The Magnificat is introduced and concludes with promises fulfilled. “From now on all generations will call [Mary] blessed."
“The apple never falls far from the tree.” “Like mother, like son.” In Luke, these adages hold true: The essence of Jesus’ preaching in Luke’s Gospel originates in Mary’s song. It echoes in The Sermon on the Plain. (See 6:20-26.) Jesus declares that God blesses the poor, hungry, weeping, and reviled; he foretells woe to the rich, full, laughing, and apparently laudatory. Had Jesus learned these promises of God at his mother’s knee? They echo again in Paul’s letter to Corinthian Christians: “Not many were powerful, not many were of noble birth,“ but “God chose what is foolish . . . what is weak . . . what is low and despised” (1 Cor. 1:27-28).
Do Mary, Jesus, and Paul think God chooses those the world considers the wrong people? Or do they profoundly understand the divine heart in light of a suffering world? Who are we in view of God’s activity? It is sobering to remember that Mary sings about divine promises she believes are being fulfilled.
By word and action, what are we teaching our children about God’s favor?
In the fourth week of Advent, we focus on prophecies of the arrival of the Messiah. When David commits to build a temple for God, God promises to build a house for David as well. This is the line of David that will rule forever, and Jesus comes from this line. In the first reading from Luke, Mary rejoices after her visit to Elizabeth, for she understands that her child will play a key role in God’s redemption. Paul reminds the Romans that his message about Christ did not begin with him. Instead, it is the fulfillment of promises made through the prophets. The second reading from Luke might more logically have come first this week, for it describes how Mary reveals the importance of this child in her song of rejoicing.
Read 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16. When have you thought you were participating in God’s plans and later realized you had misunderstood God’s desire or instruction?
Read Luke 1:47-55. Consider how you magnify the Lord. How do you pass on your faith to future generations?
Read Romans 16:25-27. Remember the carols you have been singing this Advent and have sung throughout your life. How do they help you proclaim the mystery of the Incarnation?
Read Luke 1:26-38. In this season of giving and receiving, how do you remember that God is the giver of all good gifts? How do you return your God-given gifts to God?
Respond by posting a prayer.
I join many of those who will pray for you as you seek to discern what you are called to be at this moment. May God grant you the courage to fulfill that calling. May we all open our eyes and see the misery, open our ears and hear the cries of God’s people, and, like God through the Lord Jesus Christ, be incarnate amongst them.”
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