This week, we turn to the story of Mary. Traditionally treasured as the kind, unassuming woman, seen and not heard, almost half human, half angel. But I suggest so much more. Rather a woman of great power. Like John the Baptist, she similarly displayed a life grounded in truth. A life we might say is authentic and the epitome of integrity.
I want to highlight two important processes of life that help shape our life as spiritual pilgrims, two processes that are not unrelated.
Firstly, it is in the knowing of our story, i.e. that of our past which is shaping who we are. Secondly, it is the actual shape and purpose of our life that directs what we are endeavouring to achieve, which can be metaphorically spoken of as ‘our song’.
If we were to sum up what our life is on about, what would the song be that captures the heart of what we are living? In many ways we could say our past story and future intention come together as our song.
My reason for highlighting this is that I believe it is the hallmark of Mary’s story. Of her history, we have to do our own detective work. She is chosen by God for this most intimate of tasks, the parenting of Jesus. Simply, I believe we can conclude that through her upbringing she has displayed a strength and reliability of character that appealed to God.
But once Mary was approached by the Angel Gabriel, deeply touched by the hand of God, she spontaneously responds with her great song.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord
My spirit rejoices in God my saviour
For he has looked with favour on his lowly servant
From this day all generations shall call me blessed:
The Almighty has done great things for me,
And holy is his Name.
He has mercy on those who fear him
in every generation.
He has shown the strength of his arm,
He has scattered the proud in their conceit.
He has cast down the mighty from their thrones.
and has lifted up the lowly.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
And the rich he has sent away empty.
He has come to the help of his servant Israel
For he has remembered his promise of mercy,
The promise he made to our fathers
to Abraham and his children forever.
It is a song of power with a comprehensive vision and a wonderful commitment to justice. It is a picture that tells us so much more about who she was. It is reflective of her upbringing, her learning and natural maturation as a spiritual pilgrim. Its wording captures the great vision of life with which she is motivated.
The church has so valued this song, we call it the ‘Magnificat’. It is truly a magnificent document of inspiration. It is full of compassion, generosity and courage. It has inspired the calling of the church and its compassionate mission to bring about the Kingdom of God on earth as it is in heaven.
PEOPLE OF TRUTH/INTEGRITY
In her song we find that the theme of truth brings the characters of Mary and John together. Mary’s song and Jesus affirmation to John, that:
The blind receive their sight, the lame walk, the lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear, the dead are raised and the poor have good news brought to them.
Jesus knew this was John’s language and it echoes the vision of Mary’s song.
In the light of Mary’s great story captured so dramatically in her extraordinary song, I think we do well to ask ourselves what would be our song. What would be the words and mood of the song we would write to capture the purpose and spirit of our life?
I wonder if we could write our own song that sums up our vision of life.
Would it have any of the vision for the heaven on earth that she captured?
So on this fourth Sunday of Advent we are blessed by the reading of Mary to further join the great story of John the Baptist, both of whom have shaped the pathway of truth for our journey to Bethlehem.