It’s known as The Magnificat: ‘magnificat’ is simply Latin for ‘magnifies’.
Mary’s world has been turned upside down by Gabriel’s announcement. There is no resistance, no complaint. This ordinary young girl from Nazareth became extraordinary as she humbly submitted herself to be the servant of the Lord.
From Nazareth she travels to the home of Zechariah and Elizabeth where she will stay for three months. Filled by the Spirit, and with remarkable insight, Elizabeth recognises her as the mother of her Lord; even the unborn John – evidently also filled by the Spirit – leaps for joy.
For Mary, there are words of affirmation:
Blessed is she who believed…
The contrast with her own husband (a priest who couldn’t believe the gospel) must have been obvious to Elizabeth! This young woman had done what the old priest had failed to do.
Mary’s song allows us to gain a greater insight into her spirituality.
She magnifies The Lord who has paid attention to her in her humility and has done great things for her. To become the mother of God’s Son is a remarkable blessing, mercy extended to the humble.
And it’s not just Mary. This is how God loves to work: bringing down the high and mighty and lifting up the humble. His mercy extends to his people, in keeping with his promises to Abraham.
Throughout the whole extraordinary story of the birth of Jesus, humility and ordinariness mix with surprise and the miraculous. From this humble girl and her fiancé, to an old priest – one of thousands – who had apparently given up expecting God to do miracles, and his wife, whose pain and humiliation are unexpectedly removed, to a manger, to shepherds arriving from their fields.
This is how the Son of God would come into the world.