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. Continue reading

A song at the heart of the Gospel

Today’s gospel is the continuation of the narrative of Mary as we have followed from her encounter with an Angel announcing that she is to be the mother of the Messiah into the hill country of Judea and her encounter with Elizabeth. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth proclaims:

Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” (Luke 1:43-45)

Elizabeth confirms and praises the promises of God coming into the world. And upon that confirmation, Mary exults in the extraordinary canticle we know as the Magnificat: my soul magnifies the Lord. Continue reading

The Magnificat

mary-and-elizabeth-rejoiceAs mentioned in a previous post, this coming Sunday is the Solemnity of the Assumption. The gospel is taken from the Infancy Narratives of Luke’s Gospel. The first part of the gospel is traditionally known as the Visitation; the second is the spontaneous prayer of Mary called the Magnificat.

“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for he has looked with favor on his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed: the Almighty has done great things for me and holy is his Name. He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to the help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.” (Luke 1:46-55) Continue reading