Mary must have been terrified to find out that she would give birth to and raise the Messiah, who was to be named Jesus. Mary’s response to God is a trusting and faithful one: Be it unto me according to your will. She then made the difficult journey through the Judean hill country to see her relative, Elizabeth. Elizabeth, miraculously pregnant with John the Baptist, feels the baby leap for joy in her womb, and she is filled with the Holy Spirit. This moment of recognition by another person, that what the angel had told her to come, was in fact true, must have been a moment of unbelievable joy. You can almost picture Mary as a teenage peasant girl, jumping for joy as she proclaims this prayer of praise and adoration, thanking God for fulfilling His promise of salvation for His people.
For Mary there is a profound recognition that the long-awaited Messiah was coming into the world; that He was growing in her womb. In this season of Advent, we await the coming of Christmas, where we celebrate and give thanks for the birth of God as a human being, among human beings, and we also, like Mary abide in the faith of the Lord’s promise to us – the coming of His kingdom into the world, where the errors of humanity will be reconciled through the Grace of Jesus Christ.
What does it mean for us, to proclaim the same joyous prayer as Mary herself did? It’s a prayer of exultant thanksgiving, thanksgiving for the indwelling God of our salvation. Mary was literally growing God the Son in her womb, but we can humbly petition God, as we do in the Angelus – “be it unto me according to your word,” and ask Christ to increase within us. We await the coming of Jesus Christ, and we believe that when He returns He will create a new heaven and a new earth. We don’t know if we will live to see it, but like our ancestors, we maintain hope, and we spread the Good News, the hope of the Second Coming of our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. By doing so, we allow Him to work through us to bring about His kingdom on earth – just as He did through Mary.
Mary’s response to God was an ecstatic “YES!” from the depth of her soul, trusting in God’s goodness and in the fulfillment of His promises. During this Advent season, I encourage you to pray with the Magnificat and ask yourself, “what is God asking of me?” “What is God asking me to fully embrace with joy and gratitude?” When we ask Jesus this question, and hope for a response, either as an inner knowingness, or perhaps as some external sign, we can be certain that whatever our Lord asks of us, He does so knowing that what he has planned for His children is far better than we could ever hope for or imagine. Amen
The visitation of Mary to Elizabeth always captures my praying imagination.
I see an old, tough woman suffused with the giddy joy of a young girl, the kind that visits mothers, grandmothers, and aunts at wedding receptions. In squeals of laughter, flushed cheeks and bare feet on the dance floor, a youthful radiance gleams from the young at heart.
And I see a young girl, centered, purposeful, and wise beyond her years, with a confidence and vision that are usually the gifts of chronological maturity. She declares words of passion and purpose about the true order of things in a voice that does not quiver. It is a strange combination of purity and precociousness, the kind that we glimpse in the old souls of certain children.
The Spirit touches the first with a buoyant exuberance and a cry of joy that begins deep in the belly. The Spirit touches the second with anchored assurance and a song that echoes down the generations.