Magnificat: New Testament Song of Faith

12.22.17  Fri. Advent – wk 3 – (II)
1st Rdg  Samuel  1:  24 – 28
Gospel  Luke  1:  46 – 56

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.”

     Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months and then returned to her home.

The Gospel of the Lord.


Homily:  Fr. Mike Murphy                   Magnificat: New Testament Song of Faith

“Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” (Luke 1:46)  When Elizabeth praised Mary for her faith, Mary responded with this beautiful Magnificat; the hymn that glorifies God’s Holiness, Justice and His Mercy.

As a teenager and pregnant, with numerous obstacles ahead of her, what directed Mary’s life was “faith.”  Mary was certain, God’s will in her life would lead to blessedness.  She was absolutely convinced of that and witnessed this truth: ‘whatever will happen in our life, whatever challenges and crosses we confront, our response must be – faith.’  The New Testament response to faith is captured in the Magnificat.

Pope John Paul II, during his pontificate, reminded us that God is spiritually present in the whole human history.  We find this in many of his encyclicals, and Apostolic Exhortations.  In 1979, St. John Paul II preached this: “(God) is present in the history of the humble…and of the powerful; yes, in the history of the hungry, the oppressed, the underprivileged, who know they are loved by Him and find, again with Him, courage, dignity and hope.  (God is present) in the history also of the rich, of oppressors, of men sated with everything, who do not escape the justice of God and are also urged to humility, justice and sharing in order to enter His Kingdom.” (Homily; Feast of Our Lady of Lourdes; 10 February 1979; Rome)  The whole of humanity is shot through with the presence of God – saint and sinner alike.   There is no place bereft of the presence of God, even in the consumer culture that seems to dominate this season.  The presence of God brings us back to faith and to remember the ‘Reason for the Season.’   What Mary proclaimed on that day was the new kingdom that would be ushered in by the Baby in her womb.  Jesus came to set us free from slavery to things, to redirect our hearts toward love; love of God, love of our neighbor, even if we don’t know our neighbor’s name – to redirect our love.  And the Magnificat calls us to faith; faith that is lived in the spirit of simplicity, faith that is lived in the spirit of charity, faith that is lived in poverty-of-spirit.

Mary’s hymn begins with adoration, her soul “proclaims the greatness of the Lord”, and her “spirit rejoices”.  She acknowledged how God had blessed her, she who was His “lowly servant”.  Mary recalled how God was involved in human history, offers us hope for the future, for the fulfillment of His promises.  Regardless if we are lowly, fearful or hungry, the Lord will fulfill His promises to us.  And in Mary we find a model of faith and obedience.  Mary accepted that “nothing is impossible with God” (Luke 1:37) – nothing is impossible; and she offers to the Lord her will, even though this defies human reasoning and expectation.

In the Magnificat, Mary thanks God, in much the same way that Hannah did in our first reading.  As Hannah thanked God for answering her prayer for a child, Mary thanks God for answering the prayers of all of humanity for a savior.   Mary’s prayer, which is far beyond that of thanking God for just for her own baby, and for herself, but thanking God on behalf of all humanity.  Mary speaks for all the children of God, yesterday, today and forever.

Through the Magnificat we learn that prayer is central to our faith.  Hannah teaches us how to be persistent in prayer; to be confident that God listens to our prayer.  The Lords asks us to rely on Him, as Jesus would later teach: “Ask and you shall receive, seek and you shall find, and knock and the door will be opened to you.” (Matt.7:7f)   Prayer reveals our faith and our trust in God.  The Magnificat teaches us that humility acknowledges this truth, the truth that despite our lowliness we are all “blessed” by God.”  The Father knows the weariness and the hunger that you experience and He wants to fill you with what you need.  The Father knows that fear and anxiety can bring you down, and He will fill you with courage and confidence that will raise you up.

Have faith in God, as Mary had faith in God, and all generations will call you blessed.

In the Name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit.