The Song of Mary
By Deacon Keith Fournier
After giving her "Yes," her "Fiat," her response to the invitation from the angel, Mary went to visit her cousin Elizabeth in order to share the good news. We read this account in the first chapter of Luke's Gospel: "During those days Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
"When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, "Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me - that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled."
It is at this moment that Mary breaks into a song of praise and joy we call the "Magnificat":
Madonna of Humility - Domenico do Bartolo - 1433
Madonna of Humility - Lazzaro Bastiani - 1470
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his handmaid's lowliness; behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him. He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart. He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly.
"The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped Israel his servant, remembering his mercy, according to his promise to our fathers,to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
Breaking into song is a fruit of the kind of joy which can infuse the life of those filled with the presence of the Lord. It is a fruit of the Spirit (Gal. 5). In fact, the word most often translated "blessed" can be translated "happy".
St. Paul exhorted the early Christians in Ephesus to "be filled with the Spirit, addressing one another [in] psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing and playing to the Lord in your hearts, giving thanks always and for everything in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ to God the Father (Ephesians 5:18b - 20).
Mary demonstrates a life of surrendered love. It is about being- more than about doing. It is about response- more than initiation. It is about encountering God relationally, personally and intimately. It is about a receiving, giving, receiving, giving....and thus becoming a person for the Lord and in Him for others. It is about offering the "Fiat" of a surrendered life. Mary's "Fiat" ("let it be done"), issues forth into the very real fruit of her praise, her "Magnificat." This song is recorded in the sacred text of the New Testament of the Bible and begins with the words," My soul doth magnify the Lord." This hymn of praise has been memorialized in that ancient, beautiful, biblically based prayer that the Christian tradition refers to as "The Magnificat" (Luke 1:46-55).
The "Fiat" is more than a prayer and the "Magnificat" more than a hymn of praise. Together they constitute a lesson book, a guide, and a road for this journey that we are all called to walk.
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