Going Deeper 12/19/18

The 'Psalm' of the Day for Advent 4... 
Luke 1:46-55   And Mary said, "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 forever."

As was the case last week, this week's psalm comes from outside of the book of Psalms.  This familiar song of Mary, the mother of Jesus, is better known as the Magnificat.

I think it is fascinating to consider what Mary meant when she sang "from now on all generations will call me blessed."   In our times Christians refer to themselves as "blessed" when they feel grateful for material things, or for vacations, or for health and family and friends.  And that is not necessarily a bad thing.  It is good to thankful for these kinds of blessings, but at the same time, we need to remember Jesus' warnings about greed and materialism and understand that being rich by earthly standards can distract us from our calling to discipleship and even lead us away from God.

Here is what one commentator wrote about the "blessedness" of Mary: The blessedness that Mary celebrates stands in stark contrast to our culture’s attitude.  By our standards she does not look at all blessed. God has chosen her to be the mother of the messiah, but in practical terms what does that mean for her?  She is not from a family that can afford expensive food or clothing.  She is a nobody, a peasant girl from a small village.  Her friends and neighbors see her as a disgrace because she is unmarried and pregnant (see Joseph’s initial reaction to her pregnancy in Matthew 1:19).  Furthermore, as she will soon learn from Simeon if she hasn’t perceived it already, being the mother of the messiah is scarcely an unmixed blessing.  She will bear the unspeakable grief of watching as her son is rejected, shamed, and crucified.  

The ultimate beauty of being blessed by God is founded on our understanding of grace, that all of the gifts we receive from God are in truth unmerited and reflect His goodness.   The greatest gift of all is grace, the undeserved gift of forgiveness of sins, life, and salvation.  Another wonderful gift is knowing that our Abba/Father will never leave us or forsake us, and will guard and guide our lives.  Our God will even work through difficult and painful situations, bringing good according to His will.  These are the greatest of blessings.

May God's Holy Spirit help us to more and more fully understand what it means to be blessed and how truly blessed we are in His grace!

With You in His Grace,
Mark

   March 2019   
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