December 17, 2018
Scripture: Luke 1:39-55
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour.”
Luke 1:46-47 NRSV
This scripture gives us a glimpse of Mary in the early portion of the Gospel as recorded in Luke. Mary visits her cousin while betrothed to Joseph. Unlike most women in Palestine 2000 years ago, Mary has a voice: She speaks as a prophet to all people in these verses from the Gospel of Luke known as “The Magnificat” (Luke 1:46-55). The unusual name given these verses comes from the first word in the Latin translation, meaning magnify. Remarkably, her words echo the songs of Miriam and Hannah found in Genesis and 1 Samuel in the Hebrew scriptures.
Speeches like these from women are rare moments in the Bible. Mary’s role is unique as the first to proclaim the unfolding Gospel story. Like John the Baptist, she is a harbinger, proclaiming the Good News: God has intervened directly in human history and brought an unbelievable blessing to Mary and to the world. Her son will be Jesus, the Christ, the Son of God: He is Emmanu-el, literally “God with us.”
Mary will move in and out of the gospel story from this bold introduction in the first chapter of the Gospel of Luke. However, she will never speak with such authority again. Her role, like John the Baptist, diminishes as the ministry of Jesus increases. In this final portion of Advent, Mary’s words are the final call for all God’s people to look for something new which is coming into the world. It is God in human form: Jesus Christ. And, with his ministry and healing and, more importantly, his death and resurrection, will come justice for the poor and comfort for the grieving and the downhearted.
In “The Magnificat,” Mary calls us into this special story that is the Gospel. She proclaims the power of God and the coming of Jesus Christ, the salvation and hope of humankind- and all creation.