Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent
1 Samuel 1:24-28; 2:1-8; Luke 1:46-56
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;Luke 1:46-48
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
Mary gives voice to all creation in her Magnificat, the new Eve singing the praises of the Creator on the border between Nod and Eden (Genesis 4:16).
In the period of exile and waiting for the fulfillment of God’s promises to Abraham, David the psalmist had only the darkness of Sheol to look forward to after a brief span of life: Does dust give you thanks or declare your faithfulness? (Psalm 30:10)
The fading dust out of which Adam was fashioned found a new spark of life in the Immaculate Virgin who was prepared from all eternity to receive the incorruptible Son of God into her womb and heart of the earth. Mary’s elder sister Hannah, who represents the barrenness of exiled humanity, voiced the first Magnificat of Woman eleven centuries earlier upon receiving the gift of life:
My heart exults in the Lord,1 Samuel 2:1-8
my horn is exalted by my God.
I have swallowed up my enemies;
I rejoice in your victory.
There is no Holy One like the Lord;
there is no Rock like our God.
Speak boastfully no longer,
Do not let arrogance issue from your mouths.
For an all-knowing God is the Lord,
a God who weighs actions.
The bows of the mighty are broken,
while the tottering gird on strength.
The well-fed hire themselves out for bread,
while the hungry no longer have to toil.
The barren wife bears seven sons,
while the mother of many languishes.
The Lord puts to death and gives life,
casts down to Sheol and brings up again.
The Lord makes poor and makes rich,
humbles, and also exalts.
He raises the needy from the dust;
from the ash heap lifts up the poor,
To seat them with nobles
and make a glorious throne their heritage.
Fruitfulness is the essence of Woman. The Lord heard Hannah’s lament and gave her a son, Samuel, whom she dedicated to his service. Hannah’s prayers were answered in faith (1 Samuel 1:27) and she glorified the Lord in her Magnificat:
For the pillars of the earth are the Lord’s,I Samuel 2:8-10
and he has set the world upon them.
He guards the footsteps of his faithful ones,
but the wicked shall perish in the darkness;
for not by strength does one prevail.
The Lord’s foes shall be shattered;
the Most High in heaven thunders;
the Lord judges the ends of the earth.
May he give strength to his king,
and exalt the horn of his anointed!”
The Father heard the cry of Eve and bestowed the gift of his Incarnate Son to the Blessed Virgin Mary, daughter and mother of Eve. Fruitful without the seed of man but by the Holy Spirit, Woman became the gateway to heaven for all creation.
The secret of Mary’s fruitfulness is her emptiness—the depths of her humility (from humus, dust) moved the Spirit of infinite fullness to pour out his grace upon her.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,Luke 1:49-53
and holy is his name.
His mercy is from age to age
to those who fear him.
He has shown might with his arm,
dispersed the arrogant of mind and heart.
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.
The song of the Virgin full of light and grace resounded in the starry heavens in fulfillment of the promise to Abraham that his descendants would be as numerous as the stars of the sky (Genesis 15:5; 22:17). Abraham’s wife Sarah, like Hannah, received the gift of a son in her barrenness in preparation for the coming of the Christ.
He has helped Israel his servant,Luke 1:54-55
remembering his mercy,
according to his promise to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.
Conceived by the Holy Spirit in a Virgin, the new Adam deified our humanity, broke the chains of sin and death, and freed persons for communion in the Blessed Trinity. For our final end is not indistinct union with divinity, but “to receive the Spirit of God and so attain to the glory of the Father.”1 Indeed, God “will be seen in the kingdom of heaven in his own being as the Father.”2
The Magnificat from the Virgin Mother to the Virgin Father, Son, and Holy Spirit is the Canticle of Canticles fulfilled: the wedding of divinity and humanity in Jesus Christ, and the multi-personal splendor of diversity in Trinitarian communion exploded into unending joy.
1 St. Irenaeus, Against Heresies. See Office of Readings in the Liturgy of the Hours for Wednesday of the Third Week of Advent.