Joining in Mary's Magnificat

My spirit exults in God my saviour. What Mary cannot find in herself she finds in God who is the Supreme Treasure. She rejoices for he has looked with favour on his lowly servant. She does not think herself capable of attracting his gaze. But he in his goodness has turned towards her, and now she has a sure ground for confidence—the divine mercy. No longer does she fear to recognise all she has received freely from him: rather is that a debt of gratitude to be paid. From this day forward all generations will call me blessed—a prophecy which is still fulfilled after two thousand years with each Hail Mary we say. And now she sees that her joy will be the joy of all people of good will: the Almighty has done great things for me. Holy is his name, and his mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear him. He who is mighty has performed in her the greatest work of his might—the redemptive Incarnation. He has given a Saviour to the world through her.

The Most High is holy—is holiness. This is all the more evident to us who believe that the Son of God, who is also the Son of Mary, has bestowed mercy, grace, and holiness on people of so many different times and nations who feared God with that childlike fear that is the beginning of wisdom, and accepted the yoke of his commandments by grace. To explain these wonderful effects Mary appeals to the divine power: He has shown the power of his arm, he has routed the proud of heart. He has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly. God did all she mentions when he sent his only Son to confound the proud by the preaching of his gospel, and to make use of the weakness of the apostles, confessors, and virgins to bring the strength of a proud paganism to naught. His sublime mysteries he has hidden from the wise and revealed to little ones. Mary is herself an example of what God does by the little ones. He raised her above all because she looked on herself as the least of all. The Son of God chose for his dwelling not the rich palaces of kings, but the poverty of Bethlehem, and he ­manifested his power by the very weakness in which he came to exalt the little ones.

The hungry he has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away. Jesus in turn will say: Happy you who are hungry now: you shall be satisfied. Alas for you who have your fill now: you shall go hungry. In Bossuet’s words, it is when the soul sees the glory of the world in ruins, and God alone as great, that it finds peace. The Magnificat concludes as it began, with thanksgiving: He has come to the help of Israel his servant, mindful of his mercy—according to the promise he made to our ancestors—of his mercy to Abraham and to his descendants for ever. We should make our own the words of Saint Ambrose: “Let Mary’s soul be in us to glorify the Lord; let her spirit be in us that we may rejoice in God our Saviour.” May his kingdom come in us through the accomplishment of his will.


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