Editor's note: This Advent season, we are blessed to have a series of beautiful reflections by our own Marge Fenelon. For more spiritual support and encouragement, please check out Marge's beautiful book Imitating Mary as the perfect gift for yourself or a loved one this holiday season! LMH
When Mary visited Elizabeth, the two women greeted each other with great joy. Not only that, but the child in Elizabeth's womb leaped for joy, and by divine revelation, she immediately knew that Mary bore within her the Savior of the world.
"Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?" Elizabeth said. (Luke 1:42-43)
Elizabeth gave Mary the highest praise; she called her "most blessed among women," and recognized her as the mother of the Savior. It doesn't get much better than that! This is the second time in which Mary was praised so highly. The Angel Gabriel told her she was the "favored one" of God. If that had been you or me, I daresay there's a possibility that we would have been beaming with pride. We all want to claim the credit we deserve, right?
Instead, Mary turned the entire scene around and gave all of the credit to God. She spoke her Magnificat, a prayer of praise, thanksgiving, petition, and supplication; a prophecy; and a history lesson all rolled into one.
In the Magnificat, Mary gave glory to God and proclaimed her own loneliness. She predicted that, because of God's greatness – not her own – all future generations would recognize her as the most blessed among women and that God would be merciful to every generation that fears him. Lastly, Mary recalled how God led his people through centuries of hardship, including wars, famine, division, hard-heartedness, oppression, and unfaithfulness. Then she highlighted God's goodness, which he demonstrated by putting the proud in their place, dethroning despots and raising the trampled, feeding the hungry and depriving those with overabundance, and keeping his promise of posterity to Abraham. Not once did she point a finger to herself.
We could speak our own Magnificat, about our own lives and our own personal and family history. If we stop to think about it, we’ll see how God has led us through thick and thin, ups and downs, and everything in between. We'll be able to see how God in his goodness has worked in us, through us, for us, and, yes, even in spite of us at the times we've resisted cooperating with his will.
And if we are completely honest with ourselves, we will realize, like Mary, that God deserves all the credit. Then, with Mary, we can joyfully say, "My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my Savior."
Advent is the time to look deeply into our hearts and see for ourselves what truly lays there. Do we see God as the ultimate beginning and end of all that we have, are, and do? Have we ever stopped to give him glory for it? Whether or not we have, now is the time to do it – again, or for the very first time.
Copyright 2013 Marge Fenelon
About the Author
Marge Steinhage Fenelon is a wife, mother, award-winning author and journalist, retreat leader, internationally-know speaker, podcaster, and Catholic media personality. She's author of the best-selling Our Lady, Undoer of Knots: A Living Novena, award-winning My Queen, My Mother: A Marian Pilgrimage Across America, Forgiving Mother: A Marian Novena of Healing and Peace and other books on Marian devotion and Catholic spirituality. Learn more at MargeFenelon.com.