And Mary said. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” Luke 1:46-47
I would venture to say all major art museums of the world have at least one painting that depicts Mary, the mother of Jesus. Whether it is a halo around her head, or her calmly holding a baby, Christians are fascinated with this woman portrayed in scripture, with some denominations raising her to the status of sainthood. Yet, when looking at the scriptural accounts of Mary, she was just an ordinary teenage girl, preparing for her future marriage, when the Angel announced to her about miracle that she was about to birth.
I am spending some time this Advent season studying Mary’s song recorded in Luke 1:46-55, historically referred as the “Magnificat”. This was recorded after she had had some time to adjust to the idea of being pregnant and the potential scandal it would create. It is also likely she had told Joseph and, although the timeline is not clear, she may not have known how he was going to respond to her situation. Yet, as Mary sang this praise, she appears to be confident in God saying, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” This does not sound like a girl who was terrified of her future, but rather a girl with a deeper understanding that what was growing in her body was about to revolutionize the world! She continues later in her song to say, “for the Mighty One has done great things for me, holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.” The song continues to revolutionize how society views leadership by saying, “He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty”.
Remember, this was being sung by a teenage girl who had no status in her society and was considered property. This piece of scripture was so transformative that it is often used by oppressed groups and banned by totalitarian governments! Dietrich Bonhoeffer, a German theologian executed by the Nazis, called the Magnificat “the most passionate, the wildest, one might even say the most revolutionary hymn ever sung.” Today, Christianity is often viewed as an ancient way of thinking or even worse, oppressive. But just like Mary sang, I too sing how Jesus transforms the most unlikely lives and sets free those who are captive. And, like Mary, I recognize that the birth of Jesus has revolutionized our world!
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