Gospel: Lk 1:46-56
And Mary said,
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
my spirit exults in God, my savior!
He has looked upon his servant, in her lowliness,
and people, forever, will call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
Holy is his Name!
From age to age, his mercy extends
to those who live in his presence.
He has acted with power and done wonders,
and scattered the proud with their plans.
He has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and lifted up those who are downtrodden.
He has filled the hungry with good things,
but has sent the rich away empty.
He held out his hand to Israel, his servant,
for he remembered his mercy,
even as he promised to our fathers,
to Abraham and his descendants forever.”
Mary remained with Elizabeth about three months,
and then returned home.
It is always a risky undertaking to attempt to read another’s mind. Only the humblest and the wisest can do this with some hope of deciphering a person’s inner world. And the task is even more daunting when we attempt to plumb Mary’s soul, the soul of a sinless human. We, who are sinners, how can we begin to imagine what it is to be sinless?
In today’s gospel reading we hear Mary make two astonishing statements which, uttered by anybody else, would be judged to be crass boasting. “People, forever, will call me blessed. The Mighty One has done great things for me.” But on the lips of Mary these two statements simply express the naked, unadorned truth.
And here we are given an opportunity to revise once and for all our notion of humility. Taking our cue from Mary, the humblest creature who ever lived, we discover (finally!) that truth and humility are the two sides of the same coin. If you are a genius and you deny it from fear of appearing boastful, then you are a liar! Humility consists in acknowledging the truth, but also in praising God as the source of your brains.