Many times during Advent, I have read the Magnificat, and in my heart I have sung along with Mary: “My soul magnifies the Lord…for the Mighty One has done great things for me!” And it’s true. God has done great things for me. I can list them easily—especially at this festive time of year, when the lights are glowing and the heap of gifts for my children is wrapped and ready. My list includes all kinds of things: my family, my health, my home, my work, my stuff…it’s pretty much all about me.
Mary’s list is very different from mine. So is her perspective: “The Mighty One has done great things for me.” I’m not sure I would have said that, if I were in her position. She had just been given the most unexpected news that would entirely turn her life upside down. But for Mary, in that moment, it wasn’t all about herself. Rather, it was all about God and God’s redemptive plan.
Good news to Mary. Good news to the poor, the oppressed, the marginalized. God was keeping the promise made to her ancestors centuries before. A Messiah would come. The powerful, the oppressors, would be overturned. The Messiah would bring justice and peace. Things would be set right.
Good news to Mary. Not such good news for the self-centered, the proud, the rich, the successful, the powerful. People like me.
What would Mary have thought about a person like me? Would she even be able to process the idea that a woman could have so much and could be so free to pursue her own goals and dreams? As much as I like to think that I can identify with Mary, when I read her song, I realize that I am not much like her at all. I am the proud. I am the powerful. I am the rich.
But I know that I am also God’s own beloved, and God’s promise of redemption is for me, too. I am called and equipped by God for a ministry of reconciliation. Is it possible that from my position of power and privilege, I could learn to value more deeply the things that Mary valued? So that when God’s call turns my world upside down I’m not so quick to think: “How will this inconvenience me?” or “What if this means I can’t get what I want?” And instead, that I might respond more readily: “The Mighty One has done great things for me! And now I get to help lift up the lowly and fill the hungry with good things!” Can I, like Mary, play a part in God’s plan…can I help keep God’s promise to all of Abraham’s descendants, forever?