22 December – Gospel

Commentary on Luke 1:46-56

The Magnificat is not exactly what one would expect to hear from the lips of a simple village girl. It has been described as a highly dangerous revolutionary statement with strong political overtones. It is Mary’s response to the greeting she received from her cousin Elizabeth, who protested that the “mother of her Lord” should come to visit her when it should have been the other way round.

The song is full of joy, especially because Mary recognises that God has acknowledged the presence of a simple girl living in a small place – in the eyes of the world, a person of no consequence. But where God is concerned, everyone is of equal consequence. She proclaims:

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…

Then, considering her present obscurity, she makes an extraordinary prophecy:

Surely from now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me…

Blessed indeed with the unique grace of being chosen as Mother of the Incarnate God. Yet the prophecy has more than been fulfilled and is as true today as it ever was.

Mary then goes on to say that she is not the only one of God’s “little Ones” who will experience a reversal of affairs:

…indeed, his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things
and sent the rich away empty.

God has great things in store for his people. It is again a vision of the Kingdom, of God’s will being done on earth. It is the Good News.

All this is very much in line with the picture of Jesus that Luke will show emerging as one reads through his Gospel. His is a Gospel where the poor, the weak, the marginalised, the outcast and the sinful have a special place in the eyes of Jesus.

We, too, can rejoice with Mary in the long list of good things that we have been gifted with by our loving Lord. Those gifts are not just for our enjoyment. Our task, in accordance with those gifts, is to make sure that the love of God is tangibly experienced by the poor, the weak, the marginalised, the outcast and the sinful in our own midst.

The realisation of what Mary sings about will only take place when we all work together with Jesus to bring it about. With Mary, let us say today a resounding ‘Yes’ to God’s plans for his children.

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