Monday, December 12, 2011

Mary's Song of Praise

Luke 1:46-55 NRSV

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 for ever.'

Ladies, I love this passage of the bible. How are we, as women, wives, mothers, to emulate Mary? Many times Mary is shown as the perfection of humility. And she is. But what does this mean, practically speaking, to us? I am finding that every time I read (or sing) this passage that I learn something new. Each time I find something new about myself that keeps me from God.

So what does it mean to be humble and why is it so important? According to the Oxford English Dictionary 'humility' means:


[mass noun]
  • the quality of having a modest or low view of one’s importance:he needs the humility to accept that their way may be better

Ouch!  No wonder humility is not a virtue in our society. Don't we, as women, continue to be told that we are worthless or lesser because of our gender? So what gives? What makes Mary's humility different than the suppression of self-worth?

God found Mary worthy. Mary did not look to others to bolster her self-esteem. Neither did she go through life hard-headed and stubborn, confident in her own capabilities. She knew that she was small in comparison to the greatness of God. She knew that she was small in comparison to the greatness of her nation or the Roman empire. Yet God found her worthy. And she believed Him.

Mary had dreams and ambitions for herself. I'm sure she did. And her dream were probably small and humble, just as her life would have been had not God intervened. Yet she gave up even those to follow God's call in her life. Was it easy for her? Well, she was born without the taint of original sin so that must have helped. But I'm glad to have her as a model and guide. Because, Ladies, at times, I don't want to give things up - even for the greater glory of God. Sometimes (like now), I just want to be right and vindicated in my dislike of certain other people who, I assure you, deserve it.

But then there is that humility thing again. And, like Mary, I am challenged to admit that God's way is better than mine. To admit it, to have faith in it, to believe it, to live it. Ouch.

Unlike Mary, I am not called to greatness. But through the grace of God I can be called to something greater than myself. And who wouldn't jump at the chance to say "I was there! I was there and it was glorious!" Who wouldn't want to transcend one's own fears and weaknesses, secure in the knowledge that one is deemed worthy? What would it be like to not to have to prove one's inherent worth to one's self or to others? Not to have to argue or be right? What would it be like to be able to love, to be loved, all the time?  This is what it must be like for the saints in heaven.

Ladies, I will never be great. My name will never resound through the ages. I doubt I will ever be called 'blessed'. Well, not by anybody who knows me. (In fact, my son has taken to calling me "you mean old thing".) But I can choose, in the small mundanity that is my life, to say 'yes' to God. I can choose to be loving instead of being right. And through the grace of God, I may even transcend my own limitations. Isn't it worth the effort?

Sit Deus Nobis (May God Be With Us)

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