The Canticle of Mary

Luke 1: 46-56
1 Sam 1: 24-28 / 1 Sam 2

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior!
(Luke 1:46)

My soul proclaims the Lord’s greatness,
My lips exult with words of praise,
He has shown me His great kindness,
And led me to this life of grace.
The wonders of our Lord I’ve found,
The proud and haughty are debased,
The mighty He casts to the ground,
The humble to high honor raised.

Mary said: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, my spirit rejoices in God my Savior! He has looked upon His servant’s lowliness, and from now on all generations will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His name. From age to age His mercy extends to those who fear Him. He has performed mighty deeds with His arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, even as He spoke to our fathers.” (Lk.1:46-55)

Reflection

The canticle of Mary, also known as the Magnificat is one of the most beautiful prayers that the Church uses everyday at Evening Prayer in the Liturgy of the Hours. It is a manifestation of Mary’s perfect faith and trust in God. Many biblical scholars believe that Luke based the canticle of Mary on the song of Hannah in I Samuel 2: 1-10. Perhaps Luke wanted to cite a parallel between Samuel, one of the Old Testament messianic precursors, who was a “sacrificial child” promised by his mother Hannah, and Jesus, the Sacrificial Lamb and promised Messiah. Their mothers were totally dedicated to God, and for their sacrifices, both were amply rewarded. Hannah bore three more sons and two daughters after Samuel, and Mary rightly proclaims, “My being proclaims the greatness of the Lord… He has done great things for me… All generations shall call me blessed.” Indeed she has become the Mother of all mankind.

Mary’s song recalls not only the exaltation of Hannah, but those of David in Psalms 69:30 and 34:3 (“Magnify the Lord, let us exalt His Name together!”), and Isaiah (61:10, “I rejoice greatly in the Lord, in my God is the joy of my soul!”) All of them acknowledged the wonderful things that God had accomplished in their lives. They never complained to God about their trials and difficulties, nor gave any regard for their sacrifices. Instead, they all gave the glory to God for making their lives meaningful, and God made their lives so joyful. Their lives are always full of joy who focus on God’s greatness and mercy, as opposed to those concerned only about their own personal circumstances are always feeling miserable.

As we celebrate this Advent, let us take Mary’s cue and call to mind all the wonders that our Lord has done for us, the blessings we now enjoy, the members of our family and true friends that we cherish, our resources and our talents and abilities. Let us take the time to enumerate these gifts from God and give Him thanks and praise. Come, let us magnify the glory of our God, giving Him thanks as we celebrate this wonderful season of Christmas, full of assurance and hope.

With Mary we proclaim Your wondrous deeds in our lives, Father God, and in this Advent season celebrate with joyous songs the coming of our Savior. Thank You, Lord for all Your love and kindness, and the hope of eternal life in heaven. “Praise God from whom all blessings flow; praise him all creatures here below; praise Him above ye heavenly host; praise Father, Son and Holy Ghost.” Amen.

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