22 December 2009 Misa de Gallo
1 Sam 1, 24-28; 1 Sam 2, 1-8; Luke 1, 46-56
Hailed as one of the greatest hymns of the Church, the Magnificat is overwhelmingly disorienting for the mind of the world. It effects a paradigm shift. It is, as William Barclay said, revolutionary. It is like Galileo’s uprising against the old Copernican geocentric universe. When everyone believed that the world is the center of the universe, Galileo proposes his heliocentric theory — that the earth revolves around the sun. And those who took pride in being the “center” of everything, found themselves disoriented. The old way of thinking is forcibly overthrown in favor of a new social order.
The Magnificat is influenced by the canticle of Hannah which is the first reading and the responsorial psalm today. Hannah is the mother of Samuel. She had been praying for a son whom God granted. And out of sheer joy, dedicates him to Yahweh. The son is Samuel who will soon be a prophet.
Mary’s Magnificat interprets the coming of the Messiah. It takes its title from the first word in the Latin translation. Barclay said that the Magnificat espouses a moral, social and economic revolution. And it proposes a new worldview.
Mary said that the Lord “has shown the strength of His arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit.” People who are proud think that they are the center of the universe. They think that all people should think and see the world only from the viewpoint. They believe that they are the standard-bearer of the world, and thus their opinions is always right and their way of life is always the best. The proud believes that whatever abilities they have comes from them. They want to be God. The Magnificat, however, exults not the proud, but the humble. The humble knows their abilities and use their abilities because they know that everything they have, in fact, are gifts from God. Thus a person who sees that everything is God-given will always share and care for others as they care for themselves. It is a moral revolution. When the world takes pride in itself, Christians take humility as a virtue. This is therefore the world in which Christians should build: a God-centered world.
Second, Mary said that the Lord “casts down the mighty from the thrones and has lifted up the lowly.” When the world recognizes as virtue popularity and prestige, the Lord loves the least, the lost and the lowly. This has proof in everything about Jesus. His genealogy ended the inequality between men and women, by including women in his family tree when the culture didn’t. His parables are about finding the lost even if it entails leaving the ninety-nine. He mingles with sinners and heals them. His disciples come from all forms of lowly backgrounds: the fisherfolk, the tax collector, the rebel. Mary was not a queen, but she was chosen to be the mother of the King of kings. Thus it is a social revolution: those in the lower ranks of society are placed on the pinnacle of importance.
Third, Mary said that the Lord “filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.” When consumerism is the way of the world, the Lord’s way is altruistic. When we are acquisitive, the Lord invites us to give until it hurts. To be totally generous as He is. Many of us would always think automatically in any endeavor: What will I get from this? Christianity asks us to volunteer: How can I contribute? Where each one of us wants to horde as much as we can, the Lord wants us to save the best for the last. Thus, it is an economic revolution. No one dares to get more when there are others who have less.
The Magnificat has always been the canticle in evening prayers in the breviary. It is not just something we read, but it is something that we have to work on. From the Magnificat, we are to evaluate our lives. Reflect whether we have moved according to the eyes of God, according to how God sees the world and where it should be going. And from the Magnificat, we are to look at ourselves. To see ourselves as God sees us. In the Magnificat, Mary sees herself blessed: The Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is His name.