Did not her eyes as grey as doves
Alight like the peace of a new world upon that house, upon miraculous Elizabeth?
Her salutation Sings in the stone valley like a Charterhouse bell:
And the unborn saint John Wakes in his mother’s body,
Bounds with the echoes of discovery. (Thomas Merton)
“He has shown strength with his arm. He has scattered those with arrogant thoughts and proud inclinations. He has pulled the powerful down from their thrones and lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty-handed. He has come to the aid of his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, just as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to Abraham’s descendants forever.” (Luke 1:51-55; context)
Halfway through Mary’s song, which we began talking about yesterday, her tone shifts. She continues to praise God, but now she moves to concrete examples of why we should praise God. Her list takes the common assumptions of the world and turns them upside down. God lifts up the lowly; God fills the hungry with good things. At the same time, God sends the rich and powerful away. With these words, Mary speaks prophetically about what will happen due to the infant growing inside her.
Just so we don’t miss the fact that Mary is speaking about her son’s paradigm-shifting life (and death and resurrection, for that matter), she ends her song by recalling the promises that God has made throughout God’s relationship with the people of Israel. In effect, she says that God is trustworthy and that makes God praise-worthy.
In all of this, Mary’s song isn’t just plopped in the middle of the first chapter of Luke. Rather, by putting this song on Mary’s lips, Luke is able to comment on the story that is happening from within his own narrative. It’s quite masterful, really. In effect, through Mary’s words Luke says: “Lest we forget what this story is really about, here is what God is doing in all of this.”
Through the helpless infant and through the man who doesn’t fight back, God changes the game. Mary’s song praises God for this fundamental upheaval of the world’s systems. And we continue to sing her words because, through us, God is still working to bring about all of God’s promises.
Dear God, you always fulfill your promises to your people. Help me to work with you in lifting up the lowly and bringing good things to the hungry. In Jesus Christ’s name I pray. Amen.
I leave this moment with you, God, with a song in my heart about the way you are reshaping this world in the image of your kingdom.