Sunday 15th August, Feast of the Assumption

The Almighty has done great things for me; God has lifted up the lowly.

Mary set out and went as quickly as she could to a town in the hill country of Judah. She went into Zechariah’s house and greeted Elizabeth. Now as soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leapt in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. She gave a loud cry and said, ‘Of all women you are the most blessed, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Why should I be honoured with a visit from the mother of my God? For the moment your greeting reached my ears, the child in my womb leapt for joy. Yes, blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by God would be fulfilled.’

And Mary said:

‘My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord

and my spirit exults in God my saviour;

because God has looked upon me, a lowly handmaid.

Yes, from this day forward all generations will call me blessed,

for the Almighty has done great things for me.

Holy is God’s name,

and God’s mercy reaches from age to age for those who fear God.

God has shown the power of God’s arm,

God has routed the proud of heart.

God has pulled down princes from their thrones and exalted the lowly.

The hungry God has filled with good things, the rich sent empty away.

God has come to the help of Israel God’s servant, mindful of God’s mercy

– according to the promise God made to our ancestors –

of God’s mercy to Abraham and to God’s descendants for ever.’

Mary stayed with Elizabeth about three months and then went back home.

This is the song of a powerful mother.  A mother who already perceives the potential in her child and so was able to strengthen his spirit by constantly calling forth his true nature. Jesus’ call was an extraordinary one. No doubt it might have been easier for Mary to tone it down and keep him safe. I am captured by her courage, strength and power evident in her song.

Theologian, Elizabeth Johnson says

“The Magnificat is a revolutionary song of salvation whose political, economic, and social dimensions cannot be blunted. People in need in every society hear a blessing in this canticle. The battered woman, the single parent without resources, those without food on the table or without even a table, the homeless family, the young abandoned to their own devices, the old who are discarded: all are encompassed in the hope Mary proclaims.”

The Magnificat was banned in India years ago under British occupation. It was also banned in Guatemala. When the Mothers of the Plaza de Mayo – whose children disappeared during the war they placed the Magnificat’s words on posters throughout the city.The military junta of Argentina outlawed any public display of the Magnificat.

In the company of so many people that are oppressed today we are called to join in the Magnificat and create the space for our young people to dream and grow into their full potential whatever that may be.