Thursday, 4th Week of Advent 2016 (Cycle A)
In today’s first reading we hear about Hannah’s prayer. Hannah’s prayer is the pattern for Mary’s Magnificat. As Hannah praised God for His mighty deed in giving her a son, Mary too praised God’s might, holiness and mercy in sending the long awaited Messiah in the world to redeem His people. The Magnificat is Mary’s song of praise. After hearing the greetings of Elizabeth, Mary responded with her own song of praise of Yahweh. We have many reasons to give due consideration and prayerful reflection to the Magnificat. It is the longest discourse recorded of Mary in Divine Revelation. Certainly inspired, it was pronounced by Mary herself when she was carrying the Divine Child in her womb. It is the perfect act of humility and of profound humble adoration.
We find that there are four parts to the Magnificat. In the first place, Mary expresses her gratitude to God; in the second, she praises God for his power, His holiness and His mercy; in the third, she compares how differently God deals with the proud and the humble; in the fourth, she recalls that all the ancient prophecies to the Jews are now being fulfilled in the Messiah, Who was at that moment present in her womb.
Mary’s Gratitude to God
“My soul magnifies the Lord.” My soul adores, praises, and honors the Lord. The stress is always on ‘the Lord.’What a contrast between Mary’s attitude and that of so many people over the centuries, including our own day. Let us examine our consciences on how seldom we praise God. Faith tells us that prayers of praise and adoration are the most important form of prayer. For, unless this form of prayer is at least implicit, we are not even praying. Unless we praise God, magnifying Him, we are not acknowledging God for Who He is and ourselves for what we are.
Mary Praises God for His Power, Holiness and Mercy
God does not need our poor prayers, but He wants them and wants us to recognize Him for what He is. According to Mary, He is Power, He is Holiness and Mercy. He is Power because He can do whatever He wills. He is Holiness because He alone must be. God is Merciful for He loves the sinner even as He hates the sin. His mercy is boundless and His kindness towards the weak and fallen is proverbial.
Mary compares the Lot of the Humble and the Proud
“He has scattered the proud”, “He has put down the mighty”, “He has sent the rich away empty”, versus “He has exalted the lowly”, and “He has filled the hungry with good things.” It is not so much Mary telling us these things, but Jesus in her womb is speaking through His Mother’s lips. God exalts the humble; He humbles the proud.
Mary tells us that God keeps His promises
Mary tells us that God keeps His promises. His faithfulness continues to exist. It is we who fail to keep the promises made to God. It is a reminder to know that God, our God, is a faithful God.