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FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL
 

FROM THE SERVANT GENERAL

OUR THEME FOR 2010
(Part 5)

THE CANTICLE OF MARY


Our theme for 2010 and its various elements are very much reflected in the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55) and in the life of Mary.

The Almighty!
Mary bursts out in a psalm of praise. “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; The Mighty One has done great things for me” (Lk 1:46,49a).

Job initially looked for answers from God. God answered, but only spoke of His omniscience and almighty power. Job accepts and is humbly content.

Mary also questioned the angel Gabriel. Gabriel spoke of the power of the Most High, for whom nothing is impossible. Mary accepted, acknowledging her being the Lord’s servant (handmaid).

We too are called to recognize and acknowledge the golden splendor and awesome power and majesty of God. This is our starting point in our knowing our rightful place in our relationship with Him.

Call to reverential fear
“His mercy is from age to age to those who fear him.” (Lk 1:50).

Elihu spoke last, before God finally speaks. Elihu means “My God is he.” He defends God’s justice and explains suffering. Job does not answer him, perhaps seeing the right in what he said. Elihu spoke of reverential fear: “At this my heart trembles and leaps out of its place, to hear his angry voice as it rumbles forth from his mouth!” (Job 37:1-2). “From the North the splendor comes, surrounding God’s awesome majesty!” (Job 37:22).

Mary too was awed by the greatness of the Lord, by the Mighty One who does great things, by the One who shows might with His arm.

We too, in recognizing the Almighty God for who He is, should stand in awe and reverential fear before Him. Our very life and well-being are in His hands. We are totally dependent on Him.

Righteous is He
“and holy is his name” (Lk 1:49b).

Elihu said: “far be it from God to do wickedness; far from the Almighty to do wrong! .... Surely, God cannot act wickedly” (Job 34:10b,12a).

Mary was told of the holiness of the Triune God. “The holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God.” (Lk 1:35). Mary could only exult: “holy is his name.”
Job was blameless and upright. Mary was conceived without sin and was the holy mother of God. We too are called to be holy. Peter tells us: “as he who called you is holy, be holy yourselves in every aspect of your conduct, for it is written, ‘Be holy because I am holy.’” (1 Pet 1:15-16).

Just is He
“He has thrown down the rulers from their thrones but lifted up the lowly. The hungry he has filled with good things; the rich he has sent away empty.” (Lk 1:52-53).

Elihu said: “the Almighty cannot violate justice. .... He withholds not the just man’s rights, but grants vindication to the oppressed.” (Job 34:12b,36:6).

Mary speaks of the reversal of human fortunes, of the lowly being singled out for God’s favor. This is God’s justice, when people receive what is their due. The hungry will be satisfied and those who weep will laugh (Lk 6:21), while those (the unjust rich and powerful) who are filled now will be hungry and those who laugh now will grieve and weep (Lk 6:25).

Job asked God to weigh him in the scales of justice, confident that he would be innocent, and proceeded to cite his just acts (Job 31:6-34). We too are called to act justly, giving to everyone what is their due. In being just, we will experience the justice of God. “Do me justice, O Lord, because I am just.” (Ps 7:9).

Call to humility
“For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness” (Lk 1:48a). “He has shown might with his arm, dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.” (Lk 1:51).

Job is humbled by his suffering and by the unjust rebukes of his friends. He is further humbled by God’s response to his seeking answers from Him. He realizes his place in the face of the Almighty God.

Mary humbly says, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38). She realizes her place as a humble instrument of the Most High God.

We too are called to humble ourselves. Our personal attitude must be that of Jesus (Phil 2:5), who “emptied himself, taking the form of a slave, .... he humbled himself, becoming obedient to death, even death on a cross.” (Phil 2:7-8). Peter instructs us: “clothe yourselves with humility in your dealings with one another, for: ‘God opposes the proud, but bestows favor on the humble.’ So humble yourselves under the mighty hand of God, that he may exalt you in due time.” (1 Pet 5:5b-6).

Redemptive suffering
“and you yourself a sword will pierce” (Lk 2:35a). “my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” (Lk 1:47).

Job was blameless and upright; he feared God and avoided evil (Job 1:1). He was innocent. But he nonetheless suffered terribly. Then God redeemed him from his affliction and restored him.

Mary, just like any mother (or father), suffered terribly when her Son suffered. Jesus was thought to be crazy by his relatives, was betrayed by Judas, was abandoned by his apostles, was demeaned by the people, was tortured, and finally suffered an excruciating death on the cross. Mary was there, right up to the foot of the cross, until Jesus died. But Jesus’ death, and subsequent resurrection, resulted in our salvation. Mary herself, for her unique role, is our co-redemptrix.

We too are called to redemptive suffering, which is the way of the cross, which is the way of a disciple of Christ. In the world there will be affliction, such that we experience pain and suffering. But such are intended by God to purify us and to draw us closer to Himself. Suffering spurs us on to greater holiness.

Blessings in the end
“behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.” (Lk 1:48b).

In the end, Job is restored to health and wealth, and is blessed double what he had before.

In the end, Mary is enthroned as Queen of heaven and earth.

In the end, we too will be blessed and rewarded. We will be with God forever in heaven, with Jesus our Master and Mary our mother. Job will be there too.

* * *

(November 18, 2009

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