Saturday 22 December 2012

Luke 1 verses 39-56

This Sunday the Church honours Mary, the mother of our Lord. In the past the Roman Catholic Church has perhaps made too much of Mary’s position whilst the Protestant Church has made too little.

The gospel passage opens with Mary, a fifteen years old virginal girl from a Jewish village, having found she was pregnant, and been told by an angel of the Holy Spirit being upon her, decided to go seventy miles to visit her elderly cousin Elizabeth, whom she had been told was also pregnant in her old age.

On arrival the two women greeted each other, and Elizabeth in a loud voice proclaims how blessed Mary was. Until that time Elizabeth thought this was just a family visit, but now she realised how unique the situation is and feels she should have been the one visiting Mary. At the same time Elizabeth felt movement of her own baby.

Elizabeth’s joy inspires Mary to fully recognise she is to be the mother of the Saviour of the world and spontaneously sings a song, which has been sung at every Evensong in Churches all over the world for centuries since, the Magnificat. The Lord God is magnified in this song of praise which is filled with Scripture.

Mary expresses her glory and rejoices in being blessed, and how gracious God has been to her in her humility. There is a significant point made by her in that she recognises she needs a Saviour, which implies she recognises that only a sinner needs a Saviour, which tends rather to negate some Roman statements about her. God therefore in His amazing grace has allowed this girl to be the mother of His Son. This reflects the words of John Newton in that wonderful hymn which he wrote, that God saves us by grace.

Mary knows that all future generations will speak of her and indeed throughout the ages she has rightfully been praised, and she has brought honour to her sex. Mary has raised being a mother to the highest of professions, although now some feminine politicians are anxious to downgrade motherhood and their sex by trying to equate women on all levels with men. In the process some women have demeaned their sex by not only copying men’s excesses, but furthering them.

When God created the world men were intended to care and provide for the family, and women to be mothers, (primarily but not exclusively)and for that role were endowed with a more tender and caring nature. Now for their own selfish purposes, politicians and social workers want to change all that. We are all equal under God, but are meant to have different roles in life.

The Pope has wisely state that the future of mankind is at stake when the understanding of what a family means is challenged through proposals for same sex marriage. He said ‘In the fight for the family, the very notion of what being human really means – is being called into question. He spoke of the falseness of gender theories and of the current attack on the structure of the family made up of father, mother and child.
Mary told of how God is merciful to those who fear Him, and we should be mindful that whilst God is a God of love and mercy, He is also a God of wrath. In that respect we should take note of Mary’s words, ‘ He has brought down rulers from their thrones’. She has a profound view of God, who disputes the worldly values of status and misunderstanding of what it means to be equal.

God chooses people who are lowly. If the Church authorities had been given the responsibility for choosing the Apostles, Christianity would have died in very short time. They would have been looking for people with degrees, and with an equal balance of men and women Apostles. (A cynic once said the Church is falling apart by degrees). This is why God chose Mary and gave her everything that He may be glorified. Mary acknowledged her humility, her ordinariness, and the high honour God had given her.

She ends her song by singing praise of how God has remained faithful to His chosen people, the Jews, by keeping His promise to Abraham. Every Jewish boy and girl would know the history of Israel and how God has blessed them.

God chooses ordinary and lowly people to do His work, so that they will remain faithful and dependent on Him and not be full of themselves and feel self important. We should each seek to find out what God wants us to do in His service.

No comments:

Post a Comment