Luke 1:46b–55 (NRSV)
Verse 46And Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, Verse 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, Verse 48for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; Verse 49for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. Verse 50His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. Verse 51He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. Verse 52He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; Verse 53he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. Verse 54He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, Verse 55according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever."
Prior to Mary’s song, the angel Gabriel announced that she would give birth to Jesus, Son of God and Messiah. Now with her song, she praises God for what has been done in her life and what will be done for humanity in God’s good time. The verbs are in past tense, as though the deeds mentioned have already been accomplished. But the point is made: The deeds are certain and will be carried out. Those with power and riches will be judged; the lowly and the hungry will have places of honor and abundance.
Martin Luther King Jr. declared, “The arc of the moral universe is long, but it bends toward justice.” Is that a simple hope, or is it a verifiable fact in the long story of the human race? Either way, the effect of Mary’s song is to provide us with a fresh perspective, aligned with the reign of God. Mary’s song prompts us to acts that correspond to the goodness it forsees. The struggle for justice is never over, because of human sinfulness, but must be carried on in every generation with God’s reign in view.
God of Abraham, Mary, and all the saints: Your kingdom come, your will be done, on earth as in heaven. Amen.