“And Mary said,
“My soul exalts the Lord, and my spirit has begun to rejoice in God my Savior,
because he has looked upon the humble state of his servant.
For from now on all generations will call me blessed,
because he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name;
from generation to generation he is merciful to those who fear him.
He has demonstrated power with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance of their hearts.
He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position;
he has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy,
as he promised to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
Luke 1:46-56, NET
What is the Magnificat?
Every yes comes with a no.
When we say yes to watching a movie late at night, we say not to a good night’s sleep or our early morning plans. When we say yes to an expensive impulse buy, we say no to other more sensible purchases. When we say yes to tutoring immigrant or refugee children on a Saturday morning, we say no to brunch with friends.
Every time we say yes to God’s plan for our lives, we say no to the desires, decisions, and distractions that oppose His plan. When we say yes to His calling on our life, we automatically say no to our own plans.
Mary’s one courageous yes was no small thing. As an unmarried woman in her time and culture, saying yes to a pregnancy many would doubt was attached to a prophecy was a dangerous decision. Her yes to bear God’s Son was also a no to a respectable reputation. Without God’s intervention, Joseph likely would have given his no to marry her.
The Magnificat is Mary’s Yes
The Magnificat is a sublime expression of faith in the sovereign authority and goodness of God. Mary rejoiced in God’s goodness to her and praised Him for His power and holiness (Luke 1:46-50). Her praise included opposition to abusive power and pride (Luke 1:53), to oppression of the vulnerable (Luke 1:52), and to poverty and hunger (Luke 1:53). She recognized God’s intention to expose unjust systems and abusive powers, a reality that she would witness in the life and ministry of her Son, Jesus.
Mary understood that there were other kingdoms, seen and unseen, vying for her loyalty. Her decision to advance the Kingdom of God made her an enemy of these other powers. She knew that her yes to God’s Kingdom meant a no to all others.
Our decision to advance the Kingdom of God requires much of us – it means denying ourselves, fighting for justice, and opposing the powers of this world (Ephesians 6:12). Our nos, as difficult as they may be, welcome a joyful yes to a good and just Kingdom of God.