December 22nd

Mary’s Magnificat remains the most complete encouragement to the essential virtues of Christian life.  Poverty, humility, lowliness, fear of the Lord, servitude, etc. are so difficult for our pride to accept as the way to salvation.  Mary not only exemplifies these qualities, she also bears witness to the satisfaction, peace, and joy that we may experience already in this life by living as true Christians.  Mary doesn’t take on any of these attitudes because of a lack of self-confidence or out of self-hatred.  She doesn’t take them on ostensibly as a form of penance for her own failures – she has none – or the failures of others.  Mary’s magnificat is a hymn of wisdom that praises the proximity of God, and the conditions and attitudes that benefit fully from His nearness.  Spiritually, Mary speaks as the daughter of an All-Powerful Divine Father.  Her greatness is simply God reflected in the purity of her heart – she does not need any greatness of her own making.


Elizabeth prophesies before John. Before the birth of the Lord and Savior, Mary prophesies. Sin began from the woman and then spread to the man. In the same way, salvation had its first beginnings from women.1


“For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” If I take “all generations” literally, I apply it to believers. But, if I search for something more profound, I will notice how valuable it is to join to it, “because he who is powerful has done great things for me.” For “everyone who humbles himself will be exalted.” God looked upon the blessed Mary’s humility, and on account of it “he who is powerful did great things for her, and holy is his name.”2


The arm enigmatically signifies the Word that was born of her. By the proud, Mary means the wicked demons who with their prince fell through pride; the Greek sages, who refused to receive the folly, as it seemed, of what was preached; and the Jews who would not believe and were scattered for their unworthy imaginations about the Word of God. By the mighty she means the scribes and Pharisees, who sought the chief seats. It is nearer the sense, however, to refer it to the wicked demons. When openly claiming mastery over the world, the Lord by his coming scattered them and transferred those whom they had made captive unto his own dominion.3


Considering all these things, and whatever else the Lord shall have made known to you in this matter, which either does not occur to me or would take too much time to state here, strive in prayer to overcome this world: pray in hope, pray in faith, pray in love, pray earnestly and patiently, pray as a widow belonging to Christ. For although prayer is, as he has taught, the duty of all his members, that is, of all who believe in him and are united to his body, a more assiduous attention to prayer is found to be specially enjoined in Scripture upon those who are widows. Two women of the name of [Hannah] are honorably named there—the one, Elkanah’s wife, who was the mother of holy Samuel; the other, the widow who recognized the Most Holy One when he was yet a babe. [Hannah], though married, prayed with sorrow of mind and brokenness of heart because she had no sons; and she obtained Samuel and dedicated him to the Lord, because she vowed to do so when she prayed for him.4


  1. HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 8.1.  Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 24). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  2. HOMILIES ON THE GOSPEL OF LUKE 8.6.  Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 25). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  3. COMMENTARY ON LUKE.  Just, A. A. (Ed.). (2005). Luke (p. 26). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
  4. LETTER 130.16.  Franke, J. R. (Ed.). (2005). Old Testament IV: Joshua, Judges, Ruth, 1–2 Samuel (pp. 200–201). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.
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