On Sunday, Blessed Words From A Woman Called "Blessed"

From the Gospel of Luke, chapter 1, v. 46-55, the Virgin Mary’s song of praise as the angel Gabriel revealed Yahweh’s intention for her as the Savior’s mother:

“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 and 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.”

And yes, I believe — in a literal Mary, a first-century Jewish teenager betrothed to the carpenter Joseph, a virgin at the time of the Incarnation, the “theodokos,” or God-bearer.

I don’t believe in the Immaculate Conception, which refers not to the Incarnation nor Mary’s impregnation by the Spirit, but to the Roman Catholic doctrine of her own unique birth untainted neither by original sin nor the sinful nature that comes from it. I revere Mary as I revere the Apostle Paul, the martyr Stephen, the Apostle Junia, and the teachers Priscilla and Aquila; she is not, however, my “Co-Redemptrix,” nor is she sort of an appointed “Fourth Person” of the Trinity.

Nonetheless, hers are the most profound, beautiful, faithful, courageous, revolutionary and powerful words likely ever spoken, I think, by a human being, and on this and every Sunday, and indeed every day we’re walloped by the painful twists and sudden turns of our lives, the Magnificat reminds us that only in obedience to God is there joy. Mary’s strength springs not from the fruitfulness of her uterus, but from the devotion and humility in her heart, and this brave, passionate, strong woman is a model not only for Christian women, but for men who seek to live in obedience to Christ as well. Hers are timeless and timely words for Women’s History Month, and precious pearls for my own heart every day of the year.

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