By Rev. Eric Brown
The Magnificat, Mary's Song given when she visits Elizabeth, is utterly wonderful, and yet I wonder if sometimes it isn't misunderstood. I wonder if sometimes we don't view it through a veil of false pretense. Consider the very first sentence: My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant.”
We can be tempted to think that Mary is doing a “humble brag” here – but I wonder if we get what she means by the “humble estate” that she is in? We can put Mary on a pedestal, think how awesome it would have been to be her. Well, while we do call her blessed, the Scriptures also show the harshness of what Mary went through. Think of what the world would have seen when it saw Mary – a teen pregnant outside of wedlock. That wasn't popular or celebrated back then in the least – in fact, it was something you might get stoned for. Matthew reports that Joseph was thinking of divorcing her quietly – and that's the nice option – just kick her to the curb instead of killing her. And then even after Jesus is born, Mary is warned by Simeon that a sword will pierce her own heart. And then, she must flee to Egypt so that her Son isn't brutally murdered as a child. In many ways, being called to be the Mother of God would stink on ice.
That's her humble, her lowered, her dropped down estate. Mary's plans and dreams for the future that she had had are now radically changed. Nothing will be simple for her. Moreover, think of the rumors, the gossip, the accusations and dirty looks that would fly around her. Mary was brought low, she was humbled – the folks would have been talking about how apparently good little Mary wasn't so good after all. All this crashes upon her, and Mary flees – she goes with haste to visit Elizabeth, the one other person who might understand this strange pregnancy stuff, since Elizabeth herself is miraculously pregnant at an advanced age.
And what does Mary say? “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has looked on the humble estate of His servant.” Even though things are rough and wretched, even though society and family and plans are all messed up – there is God, and God is still faithful to Mary, and God still is determined to win her salvation no matter how messed up things are. She carries the proof.
Christ Jesus, Son of God and Son of Mary, True God and True Man – He knows all about low estates. He knows all about being humbled and brought low. He topped (or, went lower?) His mom when it came to that. Suffered and died on the Cross. And He remembers you. He has joined Himself to you in the waters of Holy Baptism, and He will remember you to be your Savior no matter what humbled situation you find yourself in. When you are low, when you are down, Mary's song is your song, because Christ Jesus is your great Savior who will always remember His mercy to you.
Rev. Eric Brown is pastor of Trinity Lutheran Church in Herscher, Illinois and the co-host of the HT Gospeled Boldly Podcast.
Created: June 29th, 2017