This week we remember the faithfulness of Mary, mother of Jesus. Her song of praise, the Magnificat, has echoes of praise songs from the Old Testament, including Hannah’s song after the birth of Samuel and the passage from Isaiah for this Sunday. In all the songs, the focus is on the Lord and His holiness, His strength, and His love for the humble. It is not about what Mary or Hannah or Isaiah did – it’s about what God did, and will continue to do throughout all generations. God sent His holy, precious Son to save us from death and sin, to clothe us with His righteousness as a bride is adorned with jewels.
We are the humble recipients of His generosity. Just as Abraham believed the Lord, and it was credited to him as righteousness, so Elizabeth calls Mary blessed because she believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord. Our part is a humble one – to believe the promises of God and accept His gifts.
I have spoken, and I will bring it to pass;
I have purposed, and I will do it. Isaiah 46:11b
Lord, I believe; help my unbelief! Mark 9:24
The Old Testament lesson is from the book of Isaiah, chapter 61, verses 7-11:
Instead of your shame there shall be a double portion;
instead of dishonor they shall rejoice in their lot;
therefore in their land they shall possess a double portion;
they shall have everlasting joy.
For I the Lord love justice;
I hate robbery and wrong;
I will faithfully give them their recompense,
and I will make an everlasting covenant with them.
Their offspring shall be known among the nations,
and their descendants in the midst of the peoples;
all who see them shall acknowledge them,
that they are an offspring the Lord has blessed.
I will greatly rejoice in the Lord;
my soul shall exult in my God,
for he has clothed me with the garments of salvation;
he has covered me with the robe of righteousness,
as a bridegroom decks himself like a priest with a beautiful headdress,
and as a bride adorns herself with her jewels.
For as the earth brings forth its sprouts,
and as a garden causes what is sown in it to sprout up,
so the Lord God will cause righteousness and praise
to sprout up before all the nations.
The Epistle lesson is from Galatians, chapter 4, verses 4-7:
But when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons. And because you are sons, God has sent the Spirit of his Son into our hearts, crying, “Abba! Father!” So you are no longer a slave, but a son, and if a son, then an heir through God.
The Gospel for the Feast of Saint Mary is from Luke, chapter 1, verses 39-55:
In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a town in Judah, and she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. And when Elizabeth heard the greeting of Mary, the baby leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit, and she exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb! And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And 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 mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”