An Example of Caring
Mary rose and went in haste and greeted Elizabeth with the words, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…God who is mighty has done great things for me.”
It seems appropriate in this special month dedicated to Mary to dwell on the words she spoke so beautifully and which are recorded in scripture. Actually this is Mary’s only prayer in scripture – the famous words of the Magnificat. As we well know, it was Mary’s song of prayer at the time she visited her cousin, Elizabeth. But it is a payer that could have been recited at each phase of her life. At the Annunciation and birth of Jesus, God who is mighty had done great things for her. Finding Jesus when lost in the temple and at the miracle at the wedding at Cana, Mary’s spirit rejoiced. Standing beneath the cross and at the time of the Resurrection, Mary could proclaim that holy is God’s name. But the fact is, the prayer was recorded as being said at the time of her visit to Elizabeth. To better understand the prayer we need to ask some important question: What prompted Mary to speak these beautiful words after a tedious and tiring trip to visit her cousin? The answer is CARE!
We are bombarded with the promises of caring in our society today, sometimes genuine, sometimes insincere. “Call us, we care” advertisers boast. We hear about “tender, loving care” offered by others. Actually we expect care and concern from everyone. But what is the quality of care given? In Mary’s story it was a genuine care that prompted her visit, a care that went beyond the commercial slogans promises and slogans. Mary knew it was good to be able to do something for a friend, for her cousin. It was good to reach out to another when Elizabeth needed her. Mary wanted to be present to Elizabeth, to bring joy to someone struggling through pregnancy in her older years. Because she cared, she stayed for a longer visit. Imagine their discussing what this astonishing event would mean to both of them in the years to come. Hear them laughing and crying as they shared their own excitement and fears. But in the end, we heard in her prayer that Mary cared enough to share the joy that came to her and that she brought to Elizabeth. God changed Mary from a simple, unknown young girl to a highly favored person!
We have heard this scripture story time and time again. In fact, the meeting of these two women has interested many writers and scripture scholars through the years. And their story becomes an inspiration for each of us. Let us spend a few minutes thinking about the Magnificat of our own lives. The Lord has done great things for us as well. Do we believe this – really believe this? If we do, then what would our song sound like? We would probably not hesitate to name our good qualities, our gifts from God as Mary did. We would cite times of our own spiritual challenges blessed by the grace of God. We would see ourselves as someone who cares deeply, someone who looks sincerely into the eyes of our children, spouses, friends, community, the poor. We would care about love, how to give it and what makes us want to give it. Like Mary we would care about laughing and crying with others and forgiving and talking honestly. How often we would contemplate the ways that would make it better and easier for us to live together in our environment and this world and the hard choices and sacrifices that it would take for that to happen.
So, as we think about Mary’s song, we realize that we, too, can truly sing that song of praise within ourselves. We can sing sometimes in a flickering way, sometimes in a glaring way the praises of God because we touch hands or look into the eyes or hearts of all those we meet. As Mary and Elizabeth carried life within them, we must carry life and share it with each other. The meeting of Mary and Elizabeth brought Jesus into their midst. How desperately we need to bring Jesus into the midst of our world!
Yes, the Magnificat, Mary’s prayer of faith and joy, could have been recited at every phase of her life. But, the same prayer can be our song of love, justice and compassion at every phase of our lives, every day of our lives. All of us have chosen in one way or another to journey on the unknown path of love and care and God looks with favor on us as we give our lives to others in service. Let us feel, as did Mary, the Lord’s presence in our lives. Let Mary teach us how to be even better givers of joy and providers of an atmosphere of love and service to our brothers and sisters. The Lord has done great things for us! May God, who is mighty continue to do great things in us. Then, may we do great things to make our families, communities and the world a place of love and service, truly a home for all our hearts. Holy is God’s name! Holy are we who do God’s work!
Sister Lauretta Leipzig