In the Gospel for this Solemnity, we hear St. Luke recount Mary’s great prayer of thanksgiving. We are being invited to make this prayer a reality in our lives. Our soul, our being, our life is to proclaim the greatness of the Lord.
Many years ago, when I was a seminarian, I did some volunteer work at our cathedral, St. Peter’s Basilica, in down town London, Ontario. The basilica ran a program for adults who could not read or write. This was a very humbling experience, these men and women, who humbly were seeking help from us so that they could fill out a job application, so that they could participate in the most basic of activities. I would often think of how I took for granted the gift of being able to read and write. I got to know a very kind, old man, who cared deeply for people and wanted to learn how to read the Bible. Although I was helping him, I think I came away having gotten more out of our encounters and lessons.
During one of our lessons, Bill told me that he wanted the Magnificat, to be read at his funeral. I asked him why? He told me that what he wanted people to remember was what Mary wanted people to remember: “The
Mighty one has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49). Mary takes no credit for anything and instead points to what God has done for her. The old, dying priest wanted to be remembered for what God had done, not for what he had done.
Every evening, priests and religious and many lay people pray the Magnificat as part of the Church’s Evening Prayer. Every time I pray it, I am reminded of the words of what Mary and that elderly man, Bill, whom I had helped so that he could read the Bible proclaim: “The Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is His Name.”