Wednesday, August 14, 2019

“Living and Rejoicing God’s Greatness” by Beth DeCristofaro

“Living and Rejoicing God’s Greatness” by Beth DeCristofaro

Then I heard a loud voice in heaven say: "Now have salvation and power come, and the Kingdom of our God and the authority of his Anointed One." (Revelations 12:10)

Brothers and sisters: Christ has been raised from the dead, the firstfruits of those who have fallen asleep. For since death came through man, the resurrection of the dead also came through man. (1 Corinthians 15:20-21)

Mary remained with (Elizabeth) about three months and then returned to her home. (Luke 1:56)

My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones
but lifted up the lowly.
The hungry he has filled with good things;
the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped Israel his servant,
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever. (Luke 1:46-55)

These readings today strike me with their assertions of immense generosity, reclaiming kinship, gratefulness, identity as Chosen, and triumphant good. God shared the momentous work of creation with human beings who were given free will to accept, reject, or choose to misuse. Then when free will led to sin and death, God again gifted humanity with the divine presence in human form and resurrection from the dead, inviting all to partake.

Mary’s beautiful prayer is lifted in gratitude not only for these gifts but in her awareness that through God’s gifts she has come to live a new life beyond the humble expectations of a poor Israelite girl. She freely acknowledges that it is from God and that she is part of a greater whole – a child of God who holds, graces, frees those who accept the covenant that her ancestors – her people – made with God. And then she, in the model of her God, turns around and offers that beneficence to her cousin. In spite of her own pregnancy, she comes to Elizabeth in celebration and support.

Very soon after this domestic episode Mary is warned that “And you yourself a sword will pierce” (Luke 2:35) when her newborn son is presented at the temple. In the notes from the NAB: “Her blessedness as mother of the Lord will be challenged by her son who describes true blessedness as ‘hearing the word of God and observing it’” (Lk 11:27–28 and Lk 8:20–21).[i] Her story goes on to illustrate that grace is conveyed through times of gratitude and times of suffering

As we pray with Mary the splendid Magnificat, do we allow ourselves to assent to “give over” – to hear the word and observe it, to be in solidarity with the lowly, hungry, pregnant and infirm? Do we accept joy and suffering in the giving over, allowing Jesus to mature us into closer union with him? Mary shows us that the road might be mortally fearful but it is graced and blessed.

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