I’ve been thinking about Mary this week. Actually, I’ve been thinking about girls who are in Mary’s position, but haven’t had the good fortune of being visited by the angel Gabriel. And I’ve been thinking of the wisdom and insight of Mary in what is known as Mary’s Song of Praise.
Let’s just consider her wisdom and insight today.
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” ~ Luke 1:44-55
This is Mary’s response to the deeply moving encounters she’s had with the angel Gabriel and her cousin Elizabeth. (Here is the whole context.) Her powerful poetry isn’t simply religious, although she does draw upon a personal faith. It also has not-so-subtle social and political overtones. It speaks about a great reversal, almost like a social, economic, and political revolution.
Mary’s neighbors and country-people knew exactly to what she was referring. The Jewish people were oppressed and living under the occupation of the Roman Empire. To speak of a King who will demote the powerful and rich and elevate the poor and humble meant only one thing: God was readying and moving toward setting them free!
It’s hard to imagine a young woman – a girl really, since Mary was probably about 14 years old! – speaking with such wisdom and insight. But to get the full impact of of Mary’s situation, her words, and the context in which Jesus came to be born, we must immerse ourselves into her historical and cultural context. What do you imagine it to be? What would Mary’s experience translate to today?
I am humbled and amazed when I think of Mary’s courage and fortitude in the midst of her difficult circumstances. May I too be open and receptive to the bigger picture when presented with things I don’t understand. Amen.