Praise re-echoes: Day five
Please enjoy today's reflection from our September-December issue of New Daylight.
And Mary said, ‘My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.’
Luke 1:46-49 (NRSV)
Consciously or not, Mary’s outpouring of praise echoes Hannah’s response to God’s gift of her son Samuel. Perhaps this is why it has occasionally been suggested that it is Elizabeth rather than Mary who is speaking here, since both she and Hannah were known to be barren. The evidence, however, points to Mary: many of the themes and phraseology here echo in the Psalms, Isaiah and elsewhere in the Old Testament, suggesting perhaps that she has been chosen, in part at least, for her piety and regard for the word of God.There is an ambiguity around her words that ‘all generations will call me blessed’: does it mean that she is to be blessed, that is, worshipped or honoured, or that she has indeed been blessed by God? Interpretations vary, in part according to churchmanship. Certainly we are to respect and honour her for what must have been a uniquely demanding responsibility, and take encouragement and inspiration from the fact that God does indeed choose, use and bless those who may be insignificant in the world’s eyes. It would not seem possible, however, to make an easy equation between blessing and happiness as we usually understand the latter. We know that at times Mary was bewildered by her son’s behaviour, even thought he was out of his mind, not to mention sharing in her own unique way the agony of his trial and crucifixion. One might argue that the subsequent experience of his resurrection would have been enough to redeem the use of that word ‘blessed’ and given her a sense of deep joy, if not exactly happiness. But for us, too, our experience of God’s blessing may appear mixed indeed.
Lord, help us to view our experience in the light of eternity and of your steadfast love and faithfulness. May we know ourselves blessed indeed.
Written by SHEILA WALKER
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