Scripture Text: Luke 1.46-47
Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…!”
verses 46-47, English Standard Version
These words of a teenaged young woman echo in my mind as I write. Contrary to their common portrayal in our culture, adolescents are capable of serious thought, and all the more so one with a contemplative nature like this girl. How interesting would be a conversation with her, were she to open her thoughts to you! We might say that is exactly what she does in the words of a beautiful song composed as she travels to her relative’s home.
Mary is a contemplative person, but she is not turned inward as is the bent in our “iWorld.” She speaks of herself, but that self gazes outward. Nor are we to imagine that she thinks of “my soul” as we are prone to, as a separate entity from our minds or bodies. Given her thoroughly Hebraic and Scriptural viewpoint, she would have seen “my soul” as encompassing all of her being. In fact, that is probably why she uses “my soul” as the subject here instead of the simpler “I.” It is as a whole, integrated being that she speaks, entering fully and completely into “magnifying” and “rejoicing in” her God. This is no detached, superficial act, but a deeply personal exercise, as is intimated by the parallel subject “my spirit” in the second line of her song.
That exercise is a magnifying in the sense of enlarging her own concept of the Lord, her divine Master. If God truly exists, Mary knows, our ideas of him must continually grow, not in the sense that they broaden to an ultimate fuzziness, but in the sense that they become more clear, more informed by the reality of who he is rather than our own predilections. Human philosophies tend to make God appear less and less so that he becomes quite manageable; Mary’s thinking makes him appear greater and greater, so awe-inspiring as to provoke a fear of this One so unlike her. This is a God deserving of worship with her whole being - body, mind, and spirit.
Yet this ever more awe-filled understanding of her Lord and God naturally, though perhaps paradoxically, leads Mary to a profound rejoicing. This is because her clearer view of who he is, as she unfolds that reality in the rest of her psalm, reveals him to be the One who is not only the infinite Other, whose essence is holiness, but he is also the One who comes as her Savior, the One who saves her from the ultimate futility of human existence in a world of hunger, suffering, and death.
What a transcendent thought for a teenaged young woman, and of course the irony added to this truth is that as she speaks these words of worship and rejoicing she carries within her body the Christ! God unites himself to humanity in the flesh of her womb, and she realizes that he has condescended to such an act in order that he might raise her up from sin and death to eternal life. May her faith be ours in this season of Christmas!