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 forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.
New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.
The tone changes in these readings. Our Advent gift nears and our waiting gives way to dreams of impending celebrations. Our lives mirror Mary and Joseph’s who hurriedly made ready, travelled from afar, begged shelter for nights of rest to await the birth. We ready a house, travel to visit family, welcome guests, struggle when plans wither in the face of unexpected challenges that sap energy and hope.
Four Advent Sundays have passed, four candles are lit, this birth days away, the excitement palpable. All is ready, still we wait.
Hannah gave thanks for Samuel’s birth. Mary’s words are joyful, proclaiming the greatness of the child she carries, this graced life received through God and Spirit. We lowly servants are filled as we welcome gifts of joy, mercy, compassion, and maybe an unexpected miracle. The season is here, our spirits rejoice as again we celebrate God’s greatness and salvation.
—Mary Burke-Peterson is a parishioner at St. Nicholas Church, Evanston, an active volunteer in the Ignatian Spirituality Project, and a graduate student at Institute for Pastoral Studies at Loyola University.
O King of all peoples and keystone of the Church:
come and save all mankind,
whom you fashioned from the dust!