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This reading includes two of Scripture’s great passages: Mary’s simple statement of obedience. “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it happen as you have said,” and then, shortly later, her great song of praise.
Known as the Magnificat, this was a public statement as much as anything, a song bubbling from deep inside Mary’s spirit about the great things the Lord has done. It bursts forth while Mary is still early in her pregnancy, after she’s wisely gone to visit her cousin, Elizabeth.
With great joy, Elizabeth assures Mary that yes, despite appearances, she is greatly blessed.
And who else is blessed? The humble – those who worship God not just with their lips, but their entire spirits. The hungry. The poor in spirit. Those who, like Mary, offer themselves in a spirit of service regardless of the consequences. This is who the Lord helps.
After all, even in blessing, there’s still the world and all its impossibilities to contend with.
In Mary’s case, there were gossips and rumour-mongers, sure, but also her loved ones: parents who’d have found it hard to believe in something as outrageous as a virgin birth, and Joseph, who wanted to divorce Mary quietly.
Betrothals at that time involved many formalities: feasting, a ring, gifts for extended family, the help of close friends. To later appear pregnant before the actual wedding? Who wouldn’t come to the expected, scornful conclusions?
Mary would have known all this. Even if Joseph divorced her quietly, she’d still have the shame of returning to her family or surviving somewhere else on her own.
Yet her response has lingered for 2000 years. “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it happen as you have said.” It’s left for us, so we can say the same when God brings the impossible – the impossible blessing – into our own lives.
Dear Heavenly Father: Thank you for being a God whom I can trust, which makes me want to serve you, which makes me want to hear your message, your call and your calling, just for me, and then say, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it happen as you have said.”