The Nazareth Page - A gospel meditation for your home
December 23, 2018 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
Here is a trivia question. How many prayers are there in the gospels? Many would answer that there is one original prayer in the gospels. It was composed by Jesus himself. It’s called, “The Our Father.” Wrong! There are actually two prayers in the gospels. The second one was said by Mary, the mother of Jesus. And when did she say that prayer? During her pregnancy while she was visiting her cousin, Elizabeth.
We hear it proclaimed in this Sunday’s gospel. Here are the first words of Mary’s powerful prayer” “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour.” I invite us to first reflect on the meaning of the very first line of the prayer: my soul magnifies the Lord. Our attention will focus on the word, “magnify.”
Magnification is a very important part of science in today’s world. We use the process of magnification to see better, to perceive what’s beyond our normal sight. We have a daughter who is a scientist. The object of her study is the molecular structure of living cells. When using her electronic microscope, we can see well beyond the capability of the human eye. In fact, she can see things that the unaided eye cannot see at all.
At the other extreme, we can think of today’s telescopes that can see parts of the universe that are totally invisible to ordinary eyes. I have a telescope that magnifies 50X what is visible to me when I simply look up into the night sky on a clear night. When I point my telescope to parts of the sky where there seems to be no stars, through it I can see hundreds, maybe thousands of stars.
Now back to Mary’s prayer. She is giving us information about God. When she states that her soul, her very being, magnifies the Lord, she is telling us that when we look at her very carefully and completely, we will see something of God. I believe that Mary presents to us with the feminine side of God. She magnifies a part of God that we might miss if we look at her or think about her in a superficial way. Deep down, with eyes empowered by faith, all the wonders of God’s feminine side are there for our viewing. Isn’t that a wonderful idea? Mary allows us to see a genuine dimension of God. I like to think of this as God’s compassionate and caring side. God’s kindness to all.
One of the unique aspects of Catholicism is our devotion to the Blessed Mother. She wants us to relate to her as our mother too. But I would guess that most important to her is not our attention to her, but to the God that she magnifies.
©David M. Thomas, PhD