Today, allow yourself to be encouraged by an ancient, hopeful song. It is the song Mary sang after meeting Elizabeth and both of them confirmed that Mary carried within her womb a special child, one who would become savior of the world.
Unless we remind ourselves of Mary’s reality, we might simply read her song quickly without understanding that it is radical indeed. She is a young woman among an oppressed population; she has no social or political rights as we would recognize them today. She would have no expectations of the world’s systems caring for her or favoring her. Yet she is able to sing the following:
My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.
—Luke 2:46–55, NRSV
And, in language a bit more plain from The Message, Catholic edition:
I’m bursting with God-news;
I’m dancing the song of my Savior God.
God took one good look at me, and look what happened—
I’m the most fortunate woman on earth!
What God has done for me will never be forgotten,
the God whose very name is holy, set apart from all others.
His mercy flows in wave after wave
on those who are in awe before him.
He bared his arm and showed his strength,
scattered the bluffing braggarts.
He knocked tyrants off their high horses,
pulled victims out of the mud.
The starving poor sat down to a banquet;
the callous rich were left out in the cold.
He embraced his chosen child, Israel;
he remembered and piled on the mercies, piled them high.
It’s exactly what he promised,
beginning with Abraham and right up to now.
God is for those who need help, love, security, freedom, joy, purpose, and hope. God is for us. God pays attention when everything is going wrong—when we are treated unfairly, robbed of dignity, in need of basics such as food and shelter, and in need of other basics such as justice, the ability to speak, and hope for some kind of livable future.
I hope you can read through Mary’s song, more than once, and feel some sense of encouragement for your life and your world.