Words of Hope: Magnificat

Dad and I loved to talk about Mary, the mother of Jesus. When we were in the Philippines, Dad was adored everywhere he went. He and Shann were on local television. Dad was like a rock star. I can’t explain what a phenomenon he created. We were visiting Ateneo University in Manilla, and Dad saw a beautiful wooden carving of Mary. He expressed so much joy about the carving that, to our embarrassment, he was given it. I have this in my house now, and I look at it often and remember my Dad in the Philippines. Dad would use the Ignatian spiritual exercises to place himself in the scenes of scripture as an observer, listening, learning, and meditating. The other day I was contemplating Mary and the Magnificat, Mary’s overflowing thanksgiving to God for the opportunity to bear the Messiah. She is full of wonder, and her words carry a sense of justice.

I wonder if she had felt oppressed. I imagine this young, remarkable woman and how her life unfolded. Pregnancy through the societal lens of shame, riding a donkey hours before giving birth, delivering a baby in a cattle stall, fleeing in the night to Egypt. I also wonder what she thought when Simeon, after he blessed them, told her a sword will pierce her soul. I think this is a good indication of the true gospel.

We come to God with possible expectations of an easy and blessed journey but the one who was blessed among women had an earthly road not very easy to bear. Physical discomfort, social shame, possible death are not my ideas of a “blessed life.” Dad and I talked about how the external illusion of wild blessing creates an initial attraction to Christianity, but it is really not the true path of the gospel.

“My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of the Almighty’s servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name. God’s mercy is for those who fear God from generation to generation. God has shown strength with God’s arm; God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly….” Luke 1:45-55