Mary, Blessed and Bold

By Sara Kyle
Sara is the editor of the Spire and organizer of the Westminster Seminars

As we turn our focus to the coming – advent – of Christ, an encouraging starting point is Mary’s joyful and yet humble song in response to the news that she will bear the Christ Child. Mary’s song of praise (Luke 1:46-55) is known as the Magnificat, after the opening phrase: “My soul magnifies the Lord.” Magnify in the biblical context means to “praise or render honor to God.” And indeed, Mary honors the greatness and mercy of God. She also embraces her new responsibilities as the Lord’s faithful servant who will by God’s grace be forever called blessed. Young Mary’s words are far from meek. They are confident, surprising, even brave.

Scholar Daniel Migliore notes that Mary astounds us twice, “first by her free and glad consent to God’s electing grace,” and second “by her bold and passionate expression of God’s solidarity with the poor and downtrodden of the earth.” With courage, Mary proclaims God’s judgment on injustice, which will turn the order of the world upside down: “He has brought down the powerful…and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” That’s powerful language. As one of the poor, Mary declares her faith in God’s abiding concern for the poor and the broken of the world. In that way alone, she is a model of discipleship for us all.

The Magnificat

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”