This week we enter the second week of exploring Mary’s song, found in Luke 1:46b-55, called the Magnificat, a Latin word which literally means “exalt, glorify, magnify.” And that she does!
Remember from last week, Mary had been visited by the Angel Gabriel and told she would bear the Son of God. After her initial questioning and confusion, she answered, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be with me just as you have said.” She immediately set out to see her older cousin Elizabeth who was pregnant with John (the Baptist) who would journey with Jesus until his death, “preparing the way” as he had from before his birth.
mit blauem TuchBallenstedter Jahre OEL 25 x 29
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via Wikimedia Commons
Mary’s song is deceptively sweet as she exalts, glorifies, and magnifies God’s glory but look closer! Mary’s message is as much of a song of justice as it is of mercy! Her poetic song has powerful social and political overtones. It speaks of a great reversal— what might be called a social, economic, and political revolution. To people in Mary’s day, there is little question as to what she is talking about. The Jewish people are oppressed by the Roman Empire, and to speak of a King who will demote the powerful and rich and elevate the poor and humble means one thing: God is moving toward setting them free! And yet, knowing the end of the story as we do … freedom has a high price and is not always manifested in the ways we desire.
I invite you to consider entering into the text via paraphrasing. I find that the spiritual practice of paraphrasing poetic passages of scriptures, most often found in the Psalms, helps me to go deeper into meaning and to internalize its message. We paraphrase in much the way we engage in Lectio Divina yet we do it putting our words to paper. Make sure to have your journal with you this week as you explore Mary's song. As we begin, we read the passage to get a sense of Mary's underlying feelings. If you haven't already read the text via the link above, take it and read the Magnificat. What overall message do YOU hear Mary trying to convey through her words? How would you express her feelings in your words?
Read the text a second time and explore each of the the images you are drawn to in the psalm. Seek new ways of proclaiming the message of in words and phrases that translate to the situation you find in our world today. Be creative and think not in words but in ideas.
Begin writing in your journal via stream of consciousness with new images, words, and phrases. Let the images grow and become. and then as you write, let your words flow from your mind onto the paper as you give your writing a expansive form. Let the words and phrases emerge to translate the psalm anew in your own prayer language, a new song! Feel free to share your paraphrased psalm via the comments or if you prefer, email me. I would love to hear where Mary's song is taking you ...
After you finish your own paraphrase, I invite you to read this beautiful paraphrased version of Mary’s Song. The original source has been lost to me but my recollection is that it was from a John Shelby Spong website that transitioned after his retirement to https://progressingspirit.com.
THE MAGNIFICAT: Mary's Song!
My soul sings in gratitude.
I’m dancing in the mystery of God.
The light of the Holy One is within me
and I am blessed, so truly blessed.
This goes deeper than human thinking.
I am filled with awe
at Love whose only condition
is to be received.
The gift is not for the proud,
for they have no room for it.
The strong and self-sufficient ones
don’t have this awareness.
But those who know their emptiness
can rejoice in Love’s fullness.
It’s the Love that we are made for,
the reason for our being.
It fills our inmost heart space
and brings to birth in us, the Holy One.
If music is a pathway to God for you, listen to the Magnificat (All That I Am) a lovely arrangement by David Haas based on Mary's song. The link will take you to YouTube where you will find a video with lyrics written and song clearly sung. I invite you to simply rest in its beauty as you listen.
You can simply say “Amen” now but if you would like to spend time in prayerful reflection with Mary’s Song, the Magnificat, I invite you to engage in the spiritual practice of Breath Prayer.
Breath Prayer: Take a deep breath and prepare your heart to listen to Mary, the theotokos (which means Mother of God) as her song of praise pours forth. You may use this one or create your own from your response to the Magnificat: 6-8 syllables is an optimal prayer for breathing your prayers.
Breathing in … Mysterious God
Breathing out … Dance with Me