And Mary said,
"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."
My friend *Christopher's recent bloggings have me thinking about what it means to bear Christ in a hostile world.
This has always been a serious, and often dangerous, task. In different times and places it's meant actual physical peril. Ironically, throughout the ages many of the great mystics and renewers of Christianity, people we revere as heroes of the faith, have found themselves having to protect themselves and the Christ within from the institutional Church itself.
Today many of us find ourselves bearing Christ both into a hostile secular world that finds our beliefs quaint at best, ignorant and superstitious at worst, as well as into Christian circles that deny the living presence of Christ in our lives because of our sociopolitical viewpoints or our sexual orientation or our following a Christian tradition that doesn't look like theirs. Sometimes the brokenness and sadness of the world makes us lose grasp of the hope in Christ we carry inside us. And sometimes we can feel as if our own intellect or emotions are imperiling the Christ Child within; for instance, while carefully and sometimes painfully navigating that challenging space between contemporary scholars' studies of the historical Jesus of Nazareth and the Christ we see through the lens of faith, the very Word of God in whom and through whom and for whom all things were made.
One of my coworkers, someone with whom I work closely, had difficulties during her pregnancy. I saw and felt her anxiety during this frightening time. I saw how she did everything she could to protect her child; changing her diet, and her activities, and even her vehicle, to safeguard the new life inside her. But I saw something else -- a fierceness and defiance in defense of her child. Like the bear-themed artwork she favors in her office, she demonstrated, and continues to demonstrate, the tough love of a mama bear.
This is what I hear in Mary's Magnificat -- a strong, defiant "yes" above the droning chorus of "no" around her, and an affirmation of a God whose arm is not too short to save. This Mary is not a "virgin lowly," but a virgo potens, the First Disciple, standing in solidarity with us and helping give us voice to our own "yes" no matter what our challenges in carrying her Son into our world.
"Magnificat," David J. Hetland