This summer I attended and served at a friend’s wedding Mass. After the wedding vows, I handed a bouquet of roses to my friend, the bride, and she and the groom placed the bouquet in front of a statue of Mary, pausing in private prayer while the congregation listened to a sung rendition of Mary’s Magnificat. I was so touched by this ritual and song because I had a Magnificat song during my final vow Mass. Mary is a powerful example for all of us as we make life commitments recognizing our dependence on God in the face of life’s future unknowns.
The words of the Magnificat are found in the Gospel of Luke (1:46-55):
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowly state 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;
indeed, 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 imagination 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 come to the aid of his child Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
These words of thanksgiving and praise to God are uttered by a pregnant Mary upon being greeted by her pregnant cousin Elizabeth. Mary’s faith and words are rooted in the history of her ancestors’ covenant with God. Her profession of faith is grounded in a sense of belonging to the Jewish people, generationally oppressed by others, and yet persevering because of God’s love, mercy, and commitment. Mary’s faith is one of encounter and relationship with God and His people.
Both pregnancies are signs of hope – not only for Elizabeth and Mary, but for all of us. Their sons’ lives mirrored Mary’s Magnificat by being faithful to God’s vision of righting the balance between those who are rich and powerful and those who live on the margins. I am sure that Mary held on to these words throughout her life as Jesus’ ministry unfolded. As Mary witnessed his death and resurrection, and the birth of the Christian church, I am sure in her moments of private reflection, she was filled with amazement of how God worked throughout Jesus’ life on earth – and her own life, too.
Just as Mary did not know how her life would unfold and intertwine with her son Jesus’ life, we, too, do not know how our lives will unfold and intertwine. Mary’s reliance on God, her faith and trust, serves as an example for each one of us as we try to live lives of meaning and love. We recognize our dependence on God and each other.
At the end of Mary’s life, as she was assumed bodily into heaven, I imagine the words of the Magnificat continued to play on her lips, praying that God’s will had been done throughout her lifetime on earth and would continue to be done in Heaven. I believe Mary continues to pray for each of us that we will strive to magnify God in our lives too.