“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord.”
The Magnificat comes out of the mouth of this young teenager Mary and captures the essence of the ministry of Jesus. It is the soul of Mary that proclaims the greatness of the Lord. The soul is the essence of our identity; it is the part of us that endures; it is the connection with eternity. It is Mary’s eternal essence that proclaims “the greatness of the Lord.” The greatness of the Lord refers to the agency of God that takes an interest in a young girl and gives her the opportunity to be a key figure in the drama of salvation, which will create the world anew with justice, love, and mercy at its heart. The proclamation, then, is the extraordinary reality that the God who made everything cares about the world and how it is ordered and seeks to participate in the created order to do the work of transformation.
We pause this day as we move ever closer to the promise of the arrival of the Christ child to marvel at the intersection between our eternal essence—our soul—and the reality of the creator who takes an interest in each and every one of us. This universe is so vast; sometimes it staggers belief that the source of all has the bandwidth and capacity to be interested in each human life. It is even more remarkable that God’s primary interest, as the Magnificat makes clear, is those at the margins of human life—those struggling, facing oppression, hungry, and poor.
The work of proclamation is the work of sharing this good news. We are not simply complicated bundles of atoms that come from nowhere and go nowhere. Instead, we have an eternal essence; instead, we are invited into a relationship with the source of everything that is. Instead, we are invited to discern our vocation in the light of the obligation to create a world that is more just, and we should recognize that people matter because we are all loved by God.
This Advent season is a good moment to pause and listen to Mary’s proclamation. Do we sometimes think we are insignificant? Listen to Mary’s affirmation that God is deeply interested in us. Do we wonder what we should be doing with our lives? Listen to Mary’s words as she explains what God wants to do with this world of ours.
Then we need to be ready to proclaim this good news to others. Although Christmas can be a moment of joy, many people are missing someone they love, struggling to make ends meet, and afraid about the future. The invitation from Mary is to see oneself as a person connected with God—a God that seeks to use us to further a future that is different and hopeful.