Mary’s Magnificat : My Soul Magnifies The Lord
Mary consented to be a ‘virgin mother’ despite threat to life and reputation and Hannah’s leaving child Samuel to serve the LORD represent true Christmas spirit of surrender to His will.

Mary’s Magnificat : My Soul Magnifies The Lord

Invariably after receiving something extraordinary from someone we rejoice by giving effusive thanks to the provider. Mary also received a message of great blessings for not only her people, the Israelites, but for the whole world about the coming of the Messiah through her womb. Her song of rejoicing and praising God for choosing her to be the vessel for His grace and mercy for the world is an exceptional response by a woman destined to be an unwed mother. But this song is also a lamp for the feet of all who step forward to walk in God’s ways.

       Status of women during Mary’s time – God brought all animals and birds before Adam and he ‘gave names to all cattle, the birds of the air, and to every beast of the field’. Later the LORD God made the woman, ‘and He brought her to the man’ (Genesis 2:19-22). Adam was given dominion over all the animals and birds that he had named and he was to exercise control over them. The woman was formed as a ‘help meet’ an Ezer kenegdo’ for man, one who creates a protective layer around man to protect, guide and lead him. Role of a woman has already been discussed in and earlier program in detail. And Adam named his wife as Eve after commission of the act of disobedience of God by them both (Genesis 3:20).

        Three factors have been used to undermine the actual God given role of a woman. That God brought her to Adam; and that she gave him the fruit to eat leading to sin and her being named by Adam are taken for centuries to imply that God gave authority over her to Adam. This has led to domination of a woman by man while holding her guilty for the sin. Inability of a woman to bear a child was and is deemed as a curse for the woman though the weakness may be in the man. God commanded mankind that ‘You shall not commit adultery (Exodus 20:14). And then the punishment for this sin was defined,  ‘The man who commits adultery with another man’s wife, he who commits adultery with his neighbor’s wife, the adulterer and the adulteress, shall surely be put to death’ (Leviticus 20:10).  The Scripture lays down the same rule for a married woman as well as for a virgin betrothed to a husband (Deuteronomy 22:22-23).

       Virgin Mary was betrothed to Joseph to be married to him and she was liable to attract the death penalty and suffer condemnation and humiliation for herself and her family for consenting for being the mother of the Messiah. In addition was the threat of cancellation of her marriage resulting in life long suffering.  Her question to angel Gabriel is not about doubting the message from God but a genuine query. The reply from angel Gabriel, ‘For with God nothing will be impossible’ and the blessed power of the Holy Spirit doing this, resulted in her reply to the angel, ‘Let it be to me according to your word’. This statement of acceptance of God’s deed in her life and her journey of about 70 miles or about 100 km to meet and help an aged Elizabeth indicates her love for others, grit and determination ((Luke 1:27-39).

       The scribes and the Pharisees brought to Lord Jesus a woman allegedly ‘caught in adultery for they were seeking to test Him whether He would agree to their demand of stoning her’. This act clearly reveals the state of a woman during those times for the man had been let off and she alone was brought for trial (John 8:3-11). In light of the knowledge of the then prevailing social conditions concerning women, the act of Mary to accept and then rejoice for being chosen by God reveals her great love and commitment for God.

        Similarities of Mary’s Magnificat and Hannah’s song –  Hanna meaning ‘favor by grace or petition’ prayed in ‘bitterness of soul’ asking for a male child and making a vow to dedicate him to the LORD and to make him a Nazrite. After her prayer she told Eli the Priest, ‘let your maidservant find favor in your sight’ and her face was no longer sad for she had msde her petition before the LORD and an answer was received in faith. In fulfillment of her vow the child was weaned and brought to God’s house and offered for service (1 Samuel 1:10 -25). In the Scripture there is none else with the name Hanna except Anna, an 84 years old widow, who ‘served God with fasting and prayer night and day’ and who recognized the child Messiah and gave thanks to God (Luke 2:36). Hannah and Mary were both committed to God’s work and Hannah’s prayer was for a son to bring salvation to the rest of Israel and reverse their spiritual decline while Mary was to be the mother of the Messiah. Both Hannah and Mary sang their respective hymns at the onset of their pain of obedience. Hannah rejoiced when she left child Samuel, about 3 years old, with Eli, surrounded by corruption all around while (1 Samuel 1:28) and Mary sang after meeting Elisabeth after onset of her pregnancy.  

      Samuel as a child was surrounded by corruption, by wrong doctrine, by wrong practices during worship presided over  by Eli and his sons but despite this ‘the child Samuel grew before the LORD’ (1 Samuel 2:21). Lord Jesus’ deity was recognized by Simeon and Anna in the Temple and they glorified God while Mary heard the prophesy of Simeon, ‘a sword shall pierce through your heart’. And ‘the Child grew and became strong in spirit; filled with wisdom; and the grace of God was upon Him’ (Luke 2:35-40).

        Mary’s Magnificat is so named after the Latin text ‘Magnificat anima mea Dominum’ translated as ‘My soul magnifies the LORD and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior’. This shows the humility and devotion of Mary who after giving her consent to the angel Gabriel, ‘Behold the handmaid of the Lord! Let it be done to me according to your word’, goes off ‘in haste’ to be with the aged Elisabeth and help her (in Luke 1:38- 39). She is focused on helping others and glorifies the Lord in this. Catholic Archbishop Fulton referred to  Mary as ‘a magnifying glass that intensifies our love for her Son’ and her joyful claim that ‘all generations shall call me blessed is not arrogance or pride but humility. In the same vein Apostle Paul says, ‘whoever boasts, should boast in the Lord’ in God’s work done through him (2 Corinthians 10:17).

      Magnificat is more than a prayer of praise but a reminder of humility and holiness. Mary declares  as God has ‘regarded the lowliness of His handmaid’ and has done great things for choosing her to be the mother of His Son, and that ‘He has put down the mighty from their thrones and has exalted the lowly’ (Luke 1:46-55). Mary refers to herself as LORD’s handmaid, His servant and her Son our Savior also stressed ‘Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled and whoever humbles himself shall be exalted’ (Matthew 23:12). Likewise her statement, ‘He has filled the hungry with good things’  (Luke 1:53) is repeated by the Savior in the Sermon on the Mount, ‘Blessed are they who hunger and thirst after righteousness for they shall be filled’ (Matthew 5:6-7). This is a reminder for us to ‘stay hungry’ for God’s graces in prayer and in reading and meditating upon His Word.

      The words, ‘the rich He has sent empty’  is about those whose god is wealth and power for they desire to be gods themselves rather than being God’s and since they are so full of themselves, they shall return spiritually empty from before the LORD. Am I hungry and thirsty for God’s righteousness or filled with self, conceit and arrogance magnifying self rather than God? Like Mary am I surrendering to God ‘to let it be done according to God’s Word’; am I helping others in their spiritual growth; do others see in my life Lord Jesus’ love and goodness in my life’ by letting God do His will in and through me?

       Mary’s Magnificat is that beam of strong light that leads us to God’s Son in humility and self surrender and in the Old Testament times Hannah’s song revealed similar feelings of the created for the Creator for His love and mercy.

      Teachings of the two songs of praise of God – Both songs are about gratefulness towards God for His love towards human beings and there are many ways that we are blessed by these hymns of praise of God. Firsttaking our problems to the LORD, Hannah knew where to go to seek relief for her barrenness (1 Samuel 1:10). Mary along with all Israelites had been waiting for the coming of the Messiah and God answered their prayers. Second, seeking miracles – In her brokenness and pain of suffering taunts from, Penninah the second wife of Elkanah, Hannah fasted and ‘in bitterness of soul, prayed to the LORD’. She ‘spoke in her heart; only her lips moved, but her voice was not heard’ for it was about laying bare one’s heart before God to receive a miracle filled blessing for her barrenness (1 Samuel 1:11-13). Mary saw the angel Gabriel and ‘she was troubled at his saying’, there was no surprise or fear but only anxiety about his greeting. Both Mary and Hannah knew their God, believed and earnestly expected miraculous works.

      Third, both believed that God would fulfill His promise – After her prayer Hannah was not sad and later every year brought a robe for Samuel and he ministered before the LORD (1 Samuel 2:18-20). Mary did not doubt Gabriel’s word but expressed surprise for she was a virgin and she accepted that God can do anything (Luke 1:34-37). Four, be prepared to sacrifice – Mary willingly surrendered to God’s will despite threat to life and prestige. Hannah was faithful and morally strong to uphold her end of the vow to hand over the child to Eli the priest for God’s service (1 Samuel 1:24-28). Five, making and fulfilling vows – Hannah made two vows during her prayer for the child, a dedication vow that she ‘will give him to the LORD all the days of his life’ and secondly, the abstinence vow that ‘no razor shall come upon his head’ that is to commit him as a Nazirite and she fulfilled both vows. ‘Mary kept all these things and pondered them in her heart’ is a statement made about her many times in the Scripture (Luke 2:19). Sshe was well aware of the Divine status of her Son but never tried to lay claim on Him for herself or her other children.  

      Six, learn to give willingly – Hannah’s pain of leaving her three year old son in the Temple (1 Samuel 1:28) and bringing worship clothes  for him every year and Mary’s frantic efforts to locate her twelve years old Son reflect their deep love and commitment for their children. But finally Lord Jesus’ shifting from Nazareth to Capernaum reflect their willingness to give for LORD’s work. Seven, giving God the praise – Both praised God that ‘He who is mighty has done great things for me’ and ‘has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant’ and recognized their special blessed status. Eight, raising righteous children – Hannah left Samuel when he had just been weaned at age three or so, yet the child was well versed in Temple practices. Mary’s other sons from Joseph initially did not believe in Lord Jesus but after His crucifixion, resurrection and ascension James became head of the Jerusalem Council and helped resolve the circumcision debate and Jude became a learned teacher of the Word. Both mothers were instrumental in the early spiritual upbringing of their children to serve the LORD God. Nine, remaining free from jealousy – Elisabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and recognized her status but rejoiced saying, ‘Why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? There was no feeling of jealousy for Mary on her esteemed state (Luke 1:41-45).  Hannah had suffered endlessly the taunts of Penninah but there is no mention of her behaving wrongly with her ever after.

       Christmas message – Christmas is about God’s love for mankind (John 3:16). King David, the man with God’s heart’, lived his life filled with God’s love and exclaimed ‘What is man that You are mindful of him, son of man that You care for him?’ (Psalm 8:4). God’s love is again explained by Apostle Paul, ‘But God demonstrates His own love toward us, in that while we were still sinners, Christ died for us’ (Romans 5:8). Lord Jesus acceptance of crucifixion was not in weakness but extreme power with more than 12 legions of angels (around 72,000 in number) at His command with one angel able to kill 1,85,000 warriors in one night (Isaiah 37:36). In addition the power of His own word mulyiplied the angels’ strength to unimaginable limits to kill and destroy the total inhabitants on the earth in one go. Apostle John declares that we have seen God’s love for us in His Son so now we should be ready to lay down our lives for others and Great Commission is about this responsibility towards others (1 John 3:16). Our failure to take the message of Christmas to others is equal to our rejection of His command and even His sacrifice on the cross. In truth this is Christmas to uplift the lowly and bless the needy by meeting their need.

      Mary and Hannah surrendered to the LORD God through prayer and received miraculous blessings and their songs of praise reflect their deep and close relationship with God. Are we also prepared to move out of our comfort zones to be available to the LORD God without bothering about our own selves. This complete surrender in imitation to the prayers of the Savior Lord in Gethsemane Park ‘Your will not Mine be done” is what Christmas is for a believer!

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