Magnificat December 22, 2019


“My soul doth magnify the Lord”
said Mary, under circumstances
which make it something of a startling

utterance. Not “I accept the will of the Lord.”
Not “I bow before the Lord.”
Not even “I give thanks to the Lord.”
No, Mary, this young woman,
presumably unfamiliar with angels
or divine voices of any kind,
let alone those pronouncing
that salvation would grow inside
her ordinary flesh—this woman
who may be innocent, but hardly seems naïve—
says something remarkable.
“My soul magnifies the Lord.”
Who I am, what I do, how I choose
makes God bigger. As if God
were to slip between microscope slides
and appear in never-before-seen detail.
Which is, of course, exactly
what happens. Somehow,
in being magnified God gets small,
small enough to sleep amongst the straw
and the scent of farm animals.
God magnified becomes particular,
tangible, urgent as a hungry child.
And Mary, like so many women
before her and after, puts the baby
to her breast, where they both grow
vast in one another’s eyes.

Lynn Ungar

Icon from the Latin Patriarchate of Jerusalem

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