The Magnificat for the Modern Day

The Magnificat for the Modern Day December 1, 2023

Image by David Mark / Pixabay

The Protestant branch of Christianity seems to have hangups on Mary. It might be because we fear the veneration of Mary to the same status as Jesus. Or it could be another way to separate us from the Roman Catholics. Either way, Mary seems to have a very small roll in Protestantism.

You can find her in December with Joseph on a donkey heading to Bethlehem. Maybe she’s laying Jesus in the manger with shepherds watching. Alternatively, we may see her with the sorcerers of the East or on the run to Egypt. But you get the point – she seems to have a very minor role.

The Magnificat

Growing up Fundamentalist, I never really heard of The Magnificat. And I definitely never heard these verses called the Magnificat. This section of verses in Luke (1:46-55) describe the scene as Elisabeth visits the pregnant Mary. As John the Baptist leaps in Elisabeth’s womb, she is filled with the Spirit (v. 41-45). What Mary says next is the first description of Jesus from Luke:

“And Mary said: My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior, because He has looked with favor on the humble condition of His slave. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed, because the Mighty One has done great things for me, and His name is holy. His mercy is from generation to generation on those who fear Him. He has done a mighty deed with His arm; He has scattered the proud because of the thoughts of their hearts; He has toppled the mighty from their thrones and exalted the lowly. He has satisfied the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty. He has helped His servant Israel, mindful of His mercy, just as He spoke to our ancestors, to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
Luke 1:46-55, Holman Christian Standard Bible

This passage doesn’t really fit in with Fundamentalism, and it’s certainly hard to make sense of it in an American context. There may be a few sections that work, but Luke includes a radical way of viewing the world for an American. God will scatter the proud and remove the mighty from their throne. Not only that, They will exalt the weak and feed the poor instead of the rich. It would be a hard thing to preach on if I was an American patriot.

What Now?

With Christ the King last Sunday, we begin Advent. In this period of the Church calendar, we anticipate the birth of Jesus. The triumphant end to the calendar is met head on with its renewal. As we wait for Jesus, may we continue to build his kingdom on earth – one hungry mouth at a time.

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