Christmas: Mary’s Song of Praise: The Magnificat
Christianity is a religion of songs. In fact, the largest book in the Bible is the Song Book – Psalms. It is no wonder the favourite of many. In the Bible also there are few ‘hit’ songs. The prominent among the hit songs is the Song of Mary. There are other hit songs: Song of Moses, Miriam (Exodus 15), David and Asaph (I Chronicles 16), Hannah (I Samuel 2)
“And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And 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 mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.” (Luke 1:46-55)
The angel of Lord appears to Virgin Mary. She has been called for a great and noble mission of being the mother of the Lord. It was en unexpected call, honour and privilege. As promised by the angel, she became pregnant And she needed fellowship, spiritual nurture, affirmation and encouragement. Mary chose to be with Elizabeth who was elderly and spiritual mature. It was a marvellous fellowship between Elizabeth who was old and barren and Mary, young and virgin. Both were chosen to accomplish God’s amazing plan of redemption.
Mary had to take a journey of 100 km to be with Elizabeth for about three months. When she stepped into the home of Elizabeth and Zachariah, the greeting was a great affirmation. Elizabeth told Mary that she was privileged to have Mary visit her. The same time John the Baptist in the womb leaped for joy. The unborn child was spiritually sensitive.
Sweet song of Mary
The Song of Mary has parallels with the prayer of Hannah. It is interesting to observe that Hannah, first born was Samuel. He was the Priest, Prophet, Judge and installed the first two Kings of the People of Israel. However, Lord Jesus is Prophet, Priest, King and Judge, hence the anointed one.
- Worship is magnifying God
The word Magnify multiplies the image of an object. A microscope magnifies minute things to see more vividly. In our lives, we tend to magnify something in our lives. A sports person magnifies cricket; a doctor magnifies his medical profession, a teacher magnifies her education service; a politician magnifies politics or governance. However, a disciple of Lord Jesus Christ magnifies God. People are around us have to see a Great God, Holy God, Mighty God, Loving God in a magnified form in us.
- Worship involves whole being
Worship involves the whole being. Mary declared that she worshipped the Lord from the depth of her being, soul or inner-person. She also sang in spirit. The content of the song provides a great intellectual content the product of mind. Mary sang joyfully meaning emotional engagement.
3, Worship the Lord who is Holy
Mary understood the attributes of God. Songs teach us theology. Hence song writers should be saturated with the Word of God. One of the most significant attribute of God: The Lord God almighty is Holy. Unlike other religions, God is revealed as Holy. The inner sanctuary of the Jerusalem Temple is known as Holy of Holies. We are called to worship the Lord in the Beauty of Holiness. (Psalms 96:9) The Priests have to have a badge that declares: Holiness unto the Lord. In fact, Mary became a holy vessel used by God.
- Worship the Lord for His mercy
Another great attribute of God is Mercy. The Lord shows mercy to undeserving, ill-deserving and hell deserving humanity Mary was a witness for God’s mercy. She was chosen, though being from a poor insignificant family was chosen to be the mother of the Lord.
During Chennai floods, the suffering people were provided with food and clothing. There was difference between various agencies. Some people were just throwing pockets of food or bed sheets or clothing to people. At the same time, Christian NGOs handed over pockets to each person with a smile. God’s mercy is mercy with dignity.
- Worship the Lord for His works
The Lord deeds in the world and dealings with the children of God is amazing. God is almighty and displays awesome power and splendor. However, Mary describes that God does Mighty things and great things. (Not just power, but purpose)
Mighty does not mean uncontrolled power but purposeful power. It is easy to kill and destroy sinners. That is just being mighty. When God redeems and transforms sinners, it is not just almighty power; but great power. There is no equal or parallel power in the world.
Mary sings about three types of human beings and how God displays his great power to transform them. The helpless (51), humble (52), and hungry (53) are helped and they are transformed. The proud are making common people vulnerable, helpless and powerless. The proud in thoughts or haughty and arrogant are scattered. There is a value transformation.
The humble or lowly are exalted. Those mighty who are seated on thrones – symbol of power and who control resources are made powerless. The marginalized, downtrodden, oppressed and humilated are exalted by God. There is social transformation.
The people who are hungry are fed. The people who do not have resources or access to resources are provided or fed. The proud, rich and powerful are sent empty. There is an economic transformation.
- Worship the Lord for His Promises
In the beautiful song of Mary, she reminds us about God’s Promises. Also about the faithful, resourceful, gracious God who keeps those promises. Even though the Jewish people were unfaithful for centuries, God fulfills His promises given to Abraham and his descendants forever. The Promises of God are eternal as God is eternal. They are true and God has the capacity to fulfill the awesome promises.
There are two aspects of Abraham’s blessing. Lord promised Abraham that his descendants would be innumerable like the dust or like the stars in the sky. The first aspect as dust means the Nation of Israel. The second aspect star indicates the Church. Mary understood this great fulfillment of promise.
One bible scholar wrote: “Heaven is the glorification of humility, and hell is the humiliation of pride.” The song is rich in content. It also teaches great truths about God and what true worship involves. Christmas is not just feasting but a call for magnificent worship.