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. Luke 1:51-53Today we celebrate the event of the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth, pregnant with the future John the Baptist...a person who would figure prominently in the spiritual development of Jesus. This story as told by the earliest Christian communities contained a hymn placed in Mary's mouth that we have come to call "The Magnificat" after the first word in the Latin version.
We tend to be most familiar with the first part of the hymn--"My soul magnifies the Lord"--because it fits in with our very human desire to see salvation in terms of our individual relationship with the Divine One. We are less familiar with the second part of the hymn from which the lines quoted above are taken.
The God that "has done great things" for Mary, the God magnified Mary's soul is not a God of individual holiness abstracted from the realities of human existence. The God whom Mary proclaims, to whom the Hebrew Scriptures testify, about whom Jesus taught is a God preeminently of justice. This prayer is not a nice little hymn by a pious and demure young woman but a revolutionary declaration that the world is at odds with the gospel. If Christians do not work to turn things upside down, they are not being faithful to the deepest values of their faith tradition.