As we prepare for Christmas I thought I’d share some reflections on Mary. This will be a mult-part series on Mary and the Magnificat. –Fr. C
I can think of no better way for us to walk through Advent than by looking at one of the most beautiful and treasured pieces of Scripture in Christianity. It is commonly referred to by its Latin name, “The Magnificat”. In it Mary sings to God about what God is doing -and what He is going to do- through this incredible event. I believe the Magnificat is the perfect way for us to make our final preparations for the celebration of the Incarnation at Christmas. Who better to teach us how to be ready for Jesus, than the first person to welcome him into the world? Mary’s amazing witness, particularly through the Magnificat, can teach us a great deal about our faith, and our readiness to receive the gift God is about to give the world.
Before we look at Mary’s example, let’s consider Mary herself for a moment. The Anglican Church has a strong tradition of honoring Mary –something that most Protestant churches completely jettisoned after the Reformation. The honor we give to Mary is Scriptural (which may be surprising to some) Consider the words of the Angel Gabriel to her, “Greetings O Favored one, the Lord is with you.” “Do not be afraid Mary, for you have found favor with God.” This greeting is completely unique to Mary –who was likely a teenager! Willingly she submits to the call of God. To me, her ministry to us starts here, with her “yes” to God. She is told God is going to do something amazing in her life and she answers with, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” (Luke 1:38, ESV).
Right here, right from the start, Mary shows us what it means to follow Christ. What if we responded to our Lord in the same way? I think it would positively revolutionize our experience of faith! So from the beginning let us learn from her example by responding to God’s call with her humility, “I am the servant of the Lord, let it be to me according to your word.”
Some people feel that the Roman Catholics honor Mary too much, but I think most of us honor Mary too little. Let’s think about her for a moment:
- She was chosen to be the mother of our Lord. None of us were able to choose our mothers. In fact, no one in all of history has been able to choose their mother. Except once. Once in the history of humanity someone chose their mother, and our Lord chose this young Galilean teen. If you consider that God could see all the women, of all time, and his gaze settled on this woman, then it becomes all the more remarkable. How special she must be!
- Think about the honor Jesus shows her. Jesus lived in her and Joseph’s home for all of his young life. Scripture says that, “He went down with them and came to Nazareth and was submissive to them.” (Luke 2:51, ESV) Do we think Jesus was obedient to the 10 Commandments? Sure. Do we think that it was likely that Jesus kept the commandment to “Honor your Father and Mother” Sure. So how can we not equally show honor to one to whom our Lord himself showed honor?
- Mary was uniquely present in Jesus’ life. She is the only person to be at both his incarnation and birth as well at his crucifixion and death. She walked with him from His glorious arrival, through his ministry, his betrayal, passion, death and resurrection. She was very literally with Jesus more than any other human in his life. Honor her? How could we not?