Mary, Elizabeth and Hannah – who are these three women and how can one song relate to all of them? They were not some Grammy Award winning singers with professional bands or videographers. These were simple, blessed women that history has made well known for generations. Their names are honourably mentioned in the world’s best seller “The Bible”. The name of their song is “The Magnificat”. Let me first write a brief review of these three and their song. Then I will sum it up with my comments (Looks like this type of arrangement is becoming my natural blog format).
God set her in a large place. Many Christians as well as non-Christians throughout the world respect her. Some gave her names like “the queen of heaven”, “Mary of Good Counsel”, “the Mother of God (Jesus)”, “mother of one who was light”. She was sought after for intercession, especially the poor, sick and suffering. Her song (canticle) is used widely in liturgy even after 2000 years! There are more schools, colleges, universities, hospitals and charities named after her worldwide than any other person I know.
Since you know her well with Christmas stories, carols, cantatas and sermons, I may as well conserve space and word count for the rest of this post.
She was the wife of Zacharias, the priest, and Mary’s cousin.There is no record of Elizabeth singing the Magnificat per se. She is, however, very closely connected to that song. She experienced a miracle giving birth to a son in her old age (Lk 1:34).
St. Luke the physician wrote ”When Mary was told by the Angel that the “Holy Ghost shall come upon thee and the power of the Highest shall overshadow thee ; therefore….. the holy thing …born of thee shall be called the Son of God….Mary arose….and went with haste and entered Zacharias’ house and saluted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greetings and praise to God, the baby leaped in her womb and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost (Lk 1:37-55); pre-pentecost! She was the mother of John the Baptist, the fore-runner of Jesus.
I vividly recall my mother reading to me- more than seventy years ago, about Hannah. I was struck anew while writing my post #102 “Expect & Attempt, dated 20 July 2016” (see my web Archive). In fact it inspired me to write this particular post. How in the world could a mother, who waited for years for a child, and lived with domestic ridicule, could offer her first born baby boy to the service of God, and that too, far from her own home? It had to be “God’s doing”.
Magnificat: It means a hymn, song of praise or canticle by Virgin Mary:
Mary’s Song (Luke 1:46-55)
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me—
holy is his name.
50 His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51 He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts.
52 He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.
53 He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55 to Abraham and his descendants forever,
just as he promised our ancestors.”
God gave Hannah the Old Testament version of the New Testament Magnificat, long before Mary, almost one thousand years ago. The content and theme are similar (To read the following scripture, click on this link – 1 Samuel 2:1-10).
Not strange at all considering it was from the same Holy Spirit. Notice, Mary did not “quote”. She sang in exaltation directly from her heart. Here are my thoughts:
- Where did the idea of a so called “weaker sex come from? God assigns and entrusts His Call, as in the case of these ladies, to both male and female. Did you read that Pope Francis has set up a commission, finally, to ordain female Deacons? By the way sport fans, I just could not help but quote “Women have taken 12 of Canada’s medals in the first half of the 2016 Olympic Games! I also read that Serena Williams has surpassed Roger Federer’s record on Grand Slam wins?
- God does not show favoritism (Romans 2:11). “God so loved the world” (John 3:16). These are very powerful words. God’s command was clear to Peter to go to Cornelius and preach the good news. But Peter was hesitant, just because Cornelius was a Gentile. In praise of him, Peter did confess later on, affirming God is “no respecter of persons” (Acts 10:14-35 and 1 Peter 1:17). In this example, it was discrimination and prejudice between Jews and Gentiles. Do we still have hang ups with different groups, different genders?
- Suffering or extreme experience played a large part in the life of the trio. None can fully comprehend Mary’s fear or anguish. She might have been a teen ager when betrothed to Joseph, an older gentleman, the local carpenter. That must have been the “talk of the town” or “front page on gossip magazine” when she was “found with child”. The closest the Scripture revealed was “when Joseph…being a just man and not willing to make her a public example, was minded to put her away privily…” (Matthew 1:18-19). How did she handle it? Well, Mary expressed her experience in her song! She needed to hear from God and she did. It was not difficult for her to “keep all these things in her heart”. Her trust, her song, lasted for years from childhood to cross, death, burial and finally resurrection!
Do you have a song when facing challenging situations, sometimes like a whimper, or a still small voice, other times like a powerful wind? Just remember these Ladies and their song, as one put it “meets every need of our spiritual journey leading to a profound love of Christ”.
So, sing like Hannah, sing like Mary, Sing like Elizabeth. Jesus set an example facing Cross; he also sang, a hymn. (Matthew 26:30).
God bless, Danny Paul