And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior. For he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden…” Luke 1:46-48
It was Mary’s glorious privilege to be the mother of our Lord, but we do her and ourselves a disservice if we enshrine her “Magnificat” in the magnificent past of Christ’s historical incarnation. It we put it under glass in isolated museum splendor, we rob her of the gift she means to bestow on us in the very bloom and essence of her life.
“Magnificat anima mea Dominum…” The measured rhythm of solemn church language – Latin – does not match the hum of a lively Palestinian household. The Magnificat sings and flows with fifteen Old Testament quotations. It follows that Mary grew up in a home where the sacred writings formed an integral part of ordinary life. Mary’s personal and spiritual profile shows no repression from a so-called patriarchal religion. Her Magnificat was spontaneous “woman speak” in response to pregnant Elizabeth’s spirited welcome. This “handmaiden” was magnificently alive and confident in her Covenant God before she received into her womb the world’s Savior. (Part 1 of 2)
Comment: Honestly, at first all I could think of was my super-duper magnifying glass. The size of a corn tortilla it had lights, yet still was a flop at making sense of pharmaceutical inserts. Those explain in tiny print if your new medicine will cure or kill you. As the old maxim says, “The large print giveth, the small print taketh away.”
Two pregnant women chatting today would probably magnify the problems of baby formula shortages and unwanted advice from relatives. Mary, however, was not your average young woman, but shared a deep spiritual bond with aged Elizabeth. Even at the sound of her visitor’s greeting, she exclaimed, “the baby leaped in my womb for joy.” That would be John the Baptist, Jesus’ cousin. I call him Johnny-Jump-Up, the name for viola tricolor, the gorgeous wild pansy native to Europe. I was ten when Babeli and I had the first of two brief encounters that impacted me for life. She had pressed clumps of pansies dug from her unkempt garden into my eager hands, when I knew her only as the crazy old woman who lived in a crumbling house away from my village. Situated only a very short distance from Nazi-held Austria, World War 2 drama had come to affect us also, and years later still troubled me with PTSD. A heart specialist cleared me for going abroad, but had no cure for my periodic panic attacks at times of uncertainty. To my delight I discovered that Swiss immigrants had brought viola tricolor to America in the 1800s, where Johnny-Jump-Up became known as “Heartsease.” If you want to hear the story from my lips, I’ll even throw in a look at the brilliant wild pansies gracing my computer’s wallpaper.