Friday, August 15, 2008

Feast of the Assumption of Mary!

Happy Feast!

I have to admit that I have never been particularly devoted to the Blessed Mother. But, as I learn and read more, I am coming to appreciate her more and more.

I was asked to give a talk today on things Marian. I chose to use that invitation as motivation to finish reading Elizabeth Johnson's Truly Our Sister: A Theology of Mary in the Communion of Saints. It's a wonderful book, focusing on Miriam of Nazareth--the human person, living in a particular time and place.

So, I presented some of the material, and then reflected on the Magnificat with Johnson's assertions in mind. I'd like to share some of that reflection here.

The text of the Magnificat that I used is from the People's Companion to the Breviary:

My soul proclaims your greatness, O my God,

and my spirit rejoices in God, my Savior.

For your regard has blessed me, poor, and a serving woman.

From this day all generations will call me blessed,

for you, who are mighty, have done great things for me;

and holy is your Name.

Your mercy is on those who fear you, from generation to generation.

You have shown strength with your arm.

You have scattered the proud in their hearts’ conceit.

You have put down the mighty from their thrones,

and have lifted up the lowly.

You have filled the hungry with good things,

and have sent the rich away empty.

You have helped your servant Israel,

remembering your mercy,

as you promised to Abraham and Sarah,

mercy to their children forever. (Luke 1:46-55)

My reflections:

The history of the Hebrew people is bound up in their deliverance from overbearing political leaders, from those who do not believe in Yahweh.

Yet there is a challenge here also, a hope that the world is not going to remain in the oppression that is being experienced.

By remembering God’s acts, the community remembers that God will do this again—God will always lift up the lowly, will always isolate the proud to their own inner dissatisfaction, will always pull the mighty from their powerful positions.

What does that mean for us? Are we the lowly or are we the proud? Certainly, for Mary, the lowly were those who were quite literally at the bottom of society—the slaves, servants, peasants, farm workers, “blue-collar” people who live from paycheck to paycheck.

But what about us? What about me? It is so easy to say that I am one of the “spiritually humble,” one who acknowledges my own lowliness before the God who is all-powerful and all-merciful.
But do I recognize the power I have over other people, the opportunities that my socio-economic status has given me that others do not have, through no fault of their own?

What do I do about it?

Am I content to live my comfortable life and ignore the needs of those in my world, my country, my city, my street?

How much am I willing to pull myself down, as God pulls down the mighty from their thrones?

How much am I willing to see what God sees and attempt to remedy the injustice in the world? How have I helped in God’s task of lifting up the lowly?

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