Thursday, December 22, 2016


From now on, all people will call me blessed. Here is the fourth line of Mary's song, and the last that we will take under good consideration this week.It is a most critical declaration, for it hinges precisely upon the previous three.

That is not often how we consider it. Too often, we read the magnificat only forward, ever pushing us more and more toward that moment when Jesus will push forth out of Mary's womb. This is not, however, how these beautiful words should be read; this is not the song that Mary sung.

Rather, each phrase, each lyric builds upon the last, so that we have a developing melody, one that must be read backward to be understood. Thus, when Mary says that all people will call her blessed, it is not because of what we will one day know about her, but of what we know about her already.

And what is it that we know?

We know that her soul magnifies the Lord; in her, God is made bigger. This stands in direct contrast to our modern theology of God, which says that when we are blessed, it is because God has made us bigger. I don't think Mary felt any bigger. I think she continued to feel like the small, poor, Jewish girl from a no-name town that she'd always been; what she felt was God growing bigger inside of her, and by extension, in her world. So contrary to modern theology, man is most blessed when God is made bigger and not the other way around.

We know that her spirit rejoices in the Lord; joy has become her natural state. This, too, stands in direct contrast to our modern theology, where joy is a reaction to our circumstances and subject to change with the winds. Not so for Mary. Her spirit rejoiced in the very thing that was being made bigger within her. That means, her joy was not conditional; it was firmly grounded. It was rooted in something that was already in bloom. This kind of joy is a blessing. Therefore, we call her blessed.

We know that she had been noticed, that God had looked favorably upon her. She was chosen. God knew something about her that she hadn't even seen in herself, and He called her on it. It's funny, right? Our modern theology tells us that God makes us bigger so that we can have joy so that He can choose us, but Mary's theology says that when we make God bigger and choose joy, God sees something bigger in us, even though we continue to feel our own smallness.

This is blessedness at its very core - that our lives would make God bigger, choose joy, and be chosen in our smallness. In that order.

Oh, what a difficult concept to wrap our modern minds around! Oh, what a contrast to our modern mentality!

But such it is. And so we must take it. This fourth line in Mary's song, this beautiful lyric of the magnificat, does not look forward; it looks inward. It is not speaking of the day when the Lord will burst forth from her womb; it is reflecting on the Lord taking shape within her right now.

And truly she is blessed. 

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