The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)

The Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55)

“The mighty Lord my Spirit magnifies;

In God my savior does my soul rejoice,

For on His servant’s state He turns His eyes

And to this lowly being grants His voice.

All generations will proclaim me blest

For by His might this virgin will give birth

That those in darkness, weary and oppressed,

Have hope in Him, the light for all the earth.

By mighty deeds he tears the mighty down;

The humble He exalts and lifts the lame;

He humbles those exalted with a crown,

But mercy shows to those who fear His name.

Through me the Father grants to us the Light

That all the world through time would praise His might.”



For this advent season, I will be revising and posting some older sonnets based in the Gospel of Luke, as much of my attention is spent in writing and revising for the Sunday Sonnet Vol. 1 booklet. There is some from the Christmas narrative in Luke that I have not yet (for example, Gabriel’s appearance to Mary), and someday I may write sonnets capturing those parts as well, but I hope you find these edifying for your reflection on the incarnation of Christ in the weeks leading up to Christmas.

As for the Magnificat, Mary’s Song when she meets with Elizabeth the mother of John the Baptist, this is a beautiful passage of Scripture. I wonder how much she really knew or understood in terms of Jesus’s role as savior of humanity from sin, though in the sonnet I gave her considerable knowledge, for what she describes God doing aptly fits what Christ’s work accomplishes. I suppose it is more likely that what Christ accomplishes in His life, death, and resurrection exactly fits the sort of mighty deeds of righteousness that God has always performed (and for which He has always received praise) in humbling the exalted and exalting the humbled. Jesus is after all the perfect manifestation of God’s work. Verse 53 — “he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty” — is especially striking, when considering that Christ literally fed the masses on at least a couple of occasions (in addition to being the bread of life) and sent the rich young man “empty handed,” that is telling him that to “earn eternal life” he had to give up everything he held dear.

Although I doubt she understood fully who Jesus would be (can we really say we understand who He is?), she did know from what the angel told her that Jesus would “be great and…be called the Son of the Most High” in addition to receiving “the throne of his father David” and reigning “over the house of Jacob forever” (Luke 1:32-33). Knowing this, she had great reason to believe that generations would called her blessed, for having been the direct recipient of such a great miracle as the incarnation of God. Such a blessing and work of God in her life prompted an outburst of praise and rejoicing, of song, which is the right reaction! But such a reaction only comes through proper humility, which she expresses by recognizing her lowly estate and how only God is the exalter. She exemplifies in this song how we ought always to react when God has blessed us and worked through us to His glory: “Wow! I do not deserve this high honor, being one of such lowly and humble condition. Praise be to God who exalts the humble!”


Picture: James Tissot [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons

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