Sunday

23 December 2012

"My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant." (vv. 46-48a)


Background

In this passage (which is entirely topical for this week, as we approach the celebration of Christmas), Mary's words speak into our often frenetically commercial festivities with a clarity and simplicity that bring us back to the anticipation of Christ's coming. The passage is one which reveals her joy in the blessing of being the one God has chosen for this most special of roles, and enables us to reflect upon her experience by speaking of God's approach to both the humble and the mighty, and in so doing celebrates the plan of God for caring for all people with love, justice and fairness.

Her words are reminiscent of Hannah's song (1 Samuel 2:1-10) and it seems likely that this passage of Scripture was in Mary's mind as she celebrated what God was doing in her (literally) and through her. Hannah also gave birth to a special child, and in Samuel we see a model for Christ - one who reveals God's heart and demonstrates that God had not forgotten the plight of the poor. Even in childhood (1 Samuel 1-3), Samuel was set aside for God's work and in Mary's echo of Hannah's song we see her understanding of the important role these two sons would have in establishing God's rule and reign in a people who often turned aside from God's ways.

The overriding theme in Mary's song is that God remembers the humble and scatters the proud. It seems strange perhaps to our minds that on the occasion of the forthcoming incarnation of God into the world, Mary's song does not focus more broadly on the salvation in Christ that was too come for all people, and rather instead focuses on the injustices that God would right through this incredible event. In recognising this though, we acknowledge our own limited understanding of what God was doing in Christ. His coming was no event simply to be received in private, spiritual devotion - but one which would shake the 'powers that be' - and establish once and for all that God remembers the humble.


To Ponder

  • How will you celebrate Christmas with regard to the poor?
  • What aspects of injustice are you currently aware of?
  • What can you do to reflect Mary's joy that God is on the side of the humble?


Bible notes author: Piers Lane

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