Truth has consequences. We do not always have things figured out on how to live a truth that is introduced to us if it is moral or spiritual. In fact, “dry truth” may be easier because there is always a quantifiable road on how to apply it. Math has physics. Biology has medicine. But in a scene of the miraculous or that speaking of God in our hearts, rare is the time that we “got it together”. When we understand God’s agenda it is because we are filled with grace and the Holy Spirit in context of relationship with him.
So we see with this young woman two thousand years ago named Mary of Nazareth. She gives her cooperation to God’s will not having much at all figured out but obeys one step at a time. When she arrives at the house of her relative Elizabeth what we see is an openness to life, applied obedience, filling of the Holy Spirit and an absolute hope of bringing order to the chaos that evil creates. Herein is the launching pad for Mary and what Matt Maher calls “the first Christian song”.
“And Mary said:
‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever’ “ (Luke 1:46-55).
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord— Some Bible versions say that her soul magnifies the Lord. One of my surprises as I made my journey to the Catholic Church from Protestantism was how good Mariology magnifies ones Christology (doctrine about the nature and work of Christ). I know that I am only drawn closer to Jesus when I pray a rosary. Involving her is both involving the Queen Mother and one who reminds me that God was made flesh and dwelt with us (John 1:14) with her being the Theotokos (God-bearer of the Council of Ephesus 431).
in God my savior— “Aha! That shows she is a sinner.” Not really. If you pull me out of a pit then you are my savior. If you yank me back when I am about to walk into a pit then you are just as much my savior. All of Mary’s family tree that leads to her was on a collision course for her to be born as a sinner— except God had other plans in how he filled her with grace. Several of the Protestant Reformers do not dispute this like Luther and Calvin.
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed—– And that is true. One could go to ancient writings and even a fresco that was made early in church history that illuminates her role in an honoring way. The important term from the early church has been hyperdulia. It is an exalted honor that was always distinct from latria which is worship to actual Deity. A small sect broke that line in the 4th century but they did not last and either fizzled or were shut down. The honor towards Mary has been so embedded into Christianity that even when Henry VIII of England was persecuting Catholicism and shutting down parishes he made sure that guards were posted at a parish that had a Marian name to make sure it was not vandalized. Such was the recognition of Mary and her “yes” to God.
His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him…He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy — Mary is seeing that God is a Father who keeps his promises and it is based on covenantal faithfulness and not due to the intrinsic holiness of any person.
He has shown might with his arm… the lines here are about God manifesting His presence in such a way through the ages, and ongoing, so that social justice takes place out of divine origin. People will reap what they sow whether it was good or bad but it is God who is the catalyst in informing the consciences rightly in people. But it should be noted that God or the Church informing consciences is not the same as replacing them.
The hungry he has filled with good things—this is the part where God distributes grace in the kingdom to those that have room for it. For the rich who are stuck unto themselves there is not room for such good things. For the proud they are to high and comfortable to “demean” themselves.
according to his promise to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever—-this is powerful because we know Abraham is our father too but through faith (Luke 16:24, Romans 4). In that line of faith in the Old Testament we see God’s promises, obedience and then blessing. The promise of God is always bigger than ourselves and longer than ones lifetime.
For all who believe in Jesus and open up to him as Lord there is a continuation of salvation history up to and through ones conversion. This is the kingdom that will have no end and Mary stands as one who stands at the point of salvation history where one path points to a law without grace and another to Jesus as the “way, the truth and the life” (John 14:6).
If you are on the outside of Christianity looking in, I say choose Jesus. If you are in the inside, keep choosing Jesus. To magnify his name with your words and deeds is our calling. And that magnifying will be beyond your life and above your agenda. Yet you will be the better for it.