Oct. 13, 2015 Psalm 30, Luke 1:39-56 , Psalm 141 (23)

This is the Magnificat. It is one of 4 canticles in Luke.  These songs are Mary’s Magnificat; Zechariah’s Benedictus (1:67-79); the angels’ Gloria in Excelsis (2:13-14); and Simeon’s Nunc Dimittis (2:28-32). In form and content, these four psalms are patterned on the “hymns of praise” in Israel’s Psalter. In structure, these songs reflect the compositions of pre-Christian contemporary Jewish hymnology. The first stanza displays graphically a characteristic feature of Hebrew poetry—synonymous parallelism—in ascribing praise to God: “my soul” mirrors “my spirit”; “proclaims the greatness” with “has found gladness”; “of the Lord” with “in God my Savior.” The balance of the opening two lines bursts out into a dual Magnificat of declaring the greatness of and finding delight in God. The third stanza again demonstrates parallelism, but in this instance, three contrasting parallels: the proud are reversed by the low estate, the mighty by those of low degree, and the rich by the hungry. Mary starts off with praise to God, then she describes herself as handmaiden to the Lord, then the reversal describing Christ’s ministry, as being not to the wealthy and powerful, but to the poor and down and out. She concludes her magnificat by placing this event into the history of the Jewish people.  We had a discussion of the women at this point. The Catholics believe the immaculate conception was Anne bearing Mary, and the virgin birth is Mary bearing Jesus. This was decided by the Pope and his advisors in 1880. Mary then stayed with Elizabeth for 3 months maybe because of her unmarried status. This great reversal describes how Jesus would bring down the mighty and support the poor. But most people view their status as less than others and therefore seeing Jesus as helping them as one of the poor. We shun the poor and down and out, but Jesus came to help them out. But we are too proud to help them and think we are above them. In this, we lose the sense of community with others and can put them out of our mind. This speaks of the way we use song to teach about the gospel. (Brian Stevenson wrote a book called Just Mercy that describes our current justice system.) do we have a just system, or is it one that keeps certain people in check. The Jewish were people of the promise and maybe acted in that way. Wealth is a way to live comfortably below our means.

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