By Katie Castro
Daily Lectionary reading: Luke 1:46b-55; 2 Samuel 7:18, 23-29; Galatians 3:6-14
Selected passage for reflection: Luke 1:46b-55
Luke 1:46b-55 The Message
46-55 And Mary said,
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.
“I’m bursting with God-news.”
That’s a sentence I can barely get past. The Message translation does us a serious favor with the word choice here. When I read this sentence, I’m filled with bubbling optimism and, instantly, I relate to Mary.
Mary’s Magnificat is what this passage is known as, but “Magnificat” seems far too formal and sterile for what’s actually happening in this passage. Mary, upon learning that she has been chosen to carry the Messiah in her womb, responds with a song that is as much resistance as it is remembrance.
In a time that was heavy and bleak and in which the people of Israel had been living under Roman occupation for far too long, the Good News has showed up. And, in keeping with the tradition of Scripture, where it has shown up again is in the margins… from the unexpected…. in the faith of a simple, unwed teenage soon-to-be-mom.
And just like that, Mary gets the first glimpse of the Messiah’s ministry:
It will look nothing like we expected, and it will be so much better than we expected.
This is paradigm-breaking optimism.
Mary opens, “I’m bursting with God-news” and the “God-news” that she goes on to narrate is the rescue of the oppressed. This God-news is such good news that Mary cannot contain herself and she bursts forward in optimism and resistance, that looks like dancing, and sounds like a song, and is recorded formally in so many places as a “Magnificat.”
And I can relate to that. Maybe you can too.
Sure, we’re not living under Roman occupation, but times are tough. Our context as 2022 closes out is looking quite dire: illnesses abound, inflation is rising, climate change is accelerating, politics are dividing, and our common ground as humanity seems to be even more elusive than it was just a year ago at this time.
And no, we’re not carrying baby Jesus within our wombs, like Mary did, but as Gospel people, we always carry the good news, the God-news within our DNA.
And here’s what it calls us to,
what it beckons us to,
in the midst of circumstances that seem bleak and dire,
it calls us to…
To call out yet again: that God’s rescue looks nothing like we expect it to, and it is so much better than we could ever anticipate.
This is the confession of an oppressed imagination: I cannot see the way forward, but I trust in the One who has always made one, to way-make again.
And this confession is my resistance: to despair, control, power, and anger.
I surrender to the Promise of New Beginnings and Better Endings and No-Last-Places that grows within me.
The posture of Mary’s Magnificat, of our Magnificat, colors our living by bursting through us with God-news, good news, so that every one of our actions become sacraments through which God breaks-through into history.
And I’m here for that. How about you?
David Augsburger has highlighted the holy role of humor in our resistance and remembrance. He says,
“Humorous humility for those in desperate times is the voice of faith, the courageous laughter of hope that breaks out of sadness and suffering. It is an irrepressible, radical, unreasonable hope that sustains our sanity in insane situations. Through humor, hope has the last word”.
Consider ways that you might weave humor and laughter into your celebrations this holiday as a practical surrender to the One whose rescue looks nothing like we expect, and is better than we could ever anticipate.
Inhale for 4 seconds: You lift the humble
Hold breath for 7 seconds.
Exhale for 8 seconds: So today I bend low
About the Author
Katie Castro is a speaker, strategist, and serial entrepreneur who is committed to the catalyzation of Kingdom movements through innovation, collaboration, and social impact. She and her husband Javier make their home in the hills of Western New York with their three children. To learn more about Katie, visit www.katiecastro.org.