Wednesday, October 21, 2009

Luke 1:46-50 The Magnificate

(Mary's well in St. Gabriel's Church in Nazareth- the traditional site of the anunciation. Tradition says Mary was going for water when the angel appeared).
Devotional using scripture, quote from John Calvin and thoughts for the day each day- on the 500th anniversary of Calvin's birth.

Luke 1:46- 50- The Magnificate

46 And Mary said: "My soul glorifies the Lord 47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, 48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, 49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me— holy is his name. 50 His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation.

Calvin abridged: This is a remarkable and interesting song of the holy virgin, which plainly shows how great the grace she had from the Spirit. There are three clauses to this song. First Mary offers thanks for the mercy of God which she had experienced. Next she celebrates God’s power and judgments. Third she applies this to what God was doing in bringing the promised redemption. 46- My soul glorifies the Lord- Here Mary gives her gratitude. Mary was not just talking on the outside, but was singing from her heart. “Spirit” speaks of the understanding, while “soul” focuses on the affections. She calls God “Savior” which brings her joy which turns into praise. Unless we recognize God as our Savior, we are not free to indulge in true and full joy but will remain in doubt and anxiety. 48- “For he has been mindful”- Her joy is based on God’s looking upon her. By calling herself of “humble state” she says she did not deserve this grace, and praises the undeserved goodness of God. She was of no account in the eyes of the world, and her estimation of herself was just as low. She announces that this kindness will be remembered through all generations. If this is to be proclaimed in every age everywhere, then Mary should not keep quiet either since the grace is bestowed on her. Mary did not see herself with the titles sometimes given her (like “Queen of Heaven, Star of Salvation, Gate of Life” etc.). The praises for Mary are spurious which do not exalt the power and grace of God. 49- “holy is his name”- God is holy because it is held in highest reverence.
His mercy extends from generation to generation quotes from Psalm 103:17,18. This mercy is for those who fear him- or believe and reverence him. “Fear” incorporates the idea of godliness and religion which cannot occur without faith. God does not sit idly in heaven looking down to see who is worthy of his mercy. Part of God’s grace is eliciting fear godly fear and majesty among his children.

Thought: The magnificate is one of the greatest songs ever written. It speaks of the power and willingness of God to lift up the humble. This gives hope to those who are downtrodden or struggling in life. It is reminiscent of Hannah’s prayer giving thanks for the birth of her son Samuel, and of Miriam’s song that gave thanks that the poor Israelites were rescued from the powerful Egyptian army. It is a reminder that God still acts and cares for the humble. No one is too small to be helped. No one is so great that they do not need God’s help. It also tells us the value of each individual. We should treat the poor, the unwed mothers, the uneducated, the humbled, those without power with respect as Mary is worthy of respect. We should imitate her humility. In out day, there is little humility, and few see the need for God’s help. In the midst of one of the worst recessions in the history of our nation, not many are asking us to call out for God’s mercy and help.

Prayer: Help us, O God, to give you the glory, and also to recognize your great love and ability to lift us up.

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