Covenant and Kingdom

There is a story that is unfolding before our eyes as we turn the pages of the daily readings for Mass. On December 17, even as Matthew holds forth the genealogy of Jesus, he reminded us, that it was of Mary that Jesus was born. The liturgies of December 18 and 19 pointed to the parallelism of the Angel’s announcements to Joseph and Zechariah. On December 20 we encounter the core of the Annunciation gospel which is connected with Isaiah’s prophecy about the Virgin’s child. Yesterday, the unfolding story is told in the meeting of the two pregnant holy women: Elizabeth and Mary. We listened to Elizabeth’s characterization of Mary: she, who trusted, is to be called blessed. In today’s gospel we hear Mary’s response, the canticle known to us as the Magnificat.The Magnificat is an account of a highly personal and intimate experience and, at the same time, a sharp insight into God’s own disposition toward humanity. In part It is a very personal response when Mary becomes deeply aware of God’s own physical presence and growth within her. At the same time it is both a song of joy and a manifesto of hope that reaches out both to the past and to the future. The canticle broadly points to the history of God lifting up Israel and ever seeking to draw Israel into the covenant and kingdom. In that same vein, Mary’s experience is essentially open to the future. Her song announces not only the birth of Christ, but also the birth of a new people, a liberated people, a people whose life will be centered on the Spirit of Life.

With Mary may we possessed with a heart of thanksgiving and gratitude for that God has done for us in our lives. At the same time, with Mary, may we look to the future, committed to the covenant of the kingdom of God.

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