Mary’s Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55):
“With all my heart I praise the Lord,
I am glad because of God my Savior.
He cares for me his humble servant.
From now on all people will say God has blessed me.
God All-Powerful has done great things for me; his name is holy.
He always shows mercy to everyone who worships him.
The Lord has used his powerful arm to scatter those who are proud.
He drags strong rulers from their thrones
and puts humble people in places of power.
God gives the hungry good things to eat
and sends the rich away with nothing.
He helps his servant Israel and is always merciful to his people.
The Lord made this promise to our ancestors,
to Abraham and his family forever.”
We Protestants don’t generally talk much about Mary. That’s unfortunate. But Luke’s telling of Jesus’ story has wonderful power to reverse this tendency. Take Luke 1. Here we have what is traditionally known as Mary’s Magnificat (Latin for “My soul magnifies”). Explore the content and ponder its themes: God as Savior, God’s knowledge of our inmost thoughts, his preference for the humble over the proud rulers of the day, and God as the Promise-Keeping God. There is much here to learn about God.
But there’s also something amazing here to learn about Mary, a poor, young, Jewish girl with no formal education, no public influence, and no social advantages. It’s impossible to over-stress how insignificant her existence was in the larger scheme of things 2,000 years ago. And yet that whole scheme of things hangs on her. She has such a profound understanding of God, an almost unparalleled trust, and a keen perspective on Israel’s destiny and calling. All this in someone in her particular social position? Astounding. The only other biblical figure of comparable faith who comes to mind is Abraham. And if Abraham is the ‘Father’ of our faith in terms of his example, surely Mary is the ‘Mother’ of our faith given the risk she in faith took was no less consequential for the Christian story than the risk Abraham in faith took in offering Isaac.
Any one of us — you, I, or any of the people in our lives — can trust as deeply in God as did Mary. She didn’t have this rare faith preinstalled in her from the womb to give her a natural advantage over the rest of us. She is the rest of us. And there are blessings awaiting you and others on the other side of some risk of faith God is inviting you to take. What’s holding you back? Take the leap! Trust that your feet will land on the solid but unseen God who calls you. Remember that Christmas came because someone, in this case a humble, poor, socially marginalized girl, surrendered her ‘yes’ to the risky venture of believing God for something unprecedented, something the entire world dismissed as impossible.
Prayer: God, give me grace to offer you my ‘yes’, to take the risky venture of faith in what seems unimaginable, to trust you whatever other voices say. You’re the miracle-working God.