Advent reflections: When Mary, the mother of Jesus, and Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, meet during their pregnancies, they rejoice in the ending of Empire and its oppression of the lowly under which they live at that time with the Roman occupation of Judea
Mary sings a revolutionary song to Elizabeth, known as the Magnificat:
The Magnificat: Luke 1:46-55 NRSV lyrics:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
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 powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
German Lutheran theologian Dietrich Bonhoeffer called Mary’s song “the most passionate, the wildest, one might say the most revolutionary Advent hymn ever sung.” Bonhoeffer, who would be hung 12 years later for resisting Nazism, added: “This is not the gentle, tender, dreamy Mary … This song has none of the sweet, nostalgic, or even playful tones of … Christmas carols. It is instead a hard, strong, inexorable song about collapsing thrones and humbled lords of this world … ”
Sister Elizabeth Johnson says “The Magnificat is a revolutionary song of salvation whose political, economic, and social dimensions cannot be blunted. People in need in every society hear a blessing in this canticle. The battered woman, the single parent without resources, those without food on the table or without even a table, the homeless family, the young abandoned to their own devices, the old who are discarded: all are encompassed in the hope Mary proclaims.”
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