Today we honor St. Mary the Virgin, mother of our Lord Jesus Christ. What I find so fascinating about our lessons today is that they are filled with praise. Mary’s song, or the Magnificat, we heard in Luke, the words from Isaiah, and even the psalm are all about our praise of God. But if you think about Mary’s life, Mary could have easily and justifiably been quite angry with God. Not only is she a young bride to an older man, she enters into marriage being pregnant in a traditionally shameful way. Then her life with Jesus, though with moments of joy, is full of pain: Jesus pushes her away, she watches him die on the cross, and suffers through his life and the days after his death. The song of Mary could have been a song raging against God.
More often than not, I think our prayer life with God is like this. We get angry with God when God doesn’t seem to be responding to our petitions. We dwell on the things that are going wrong in our lives, in the lives of our loved ones, and in the world. When we come to God in prayer, it is rarely for thanksgiving; it is usually with petitions and frustrations.
But today, Mary shows us another way. She sees in her pregnancy blessing not a curse. She sees the magnificent big picture of what God is doing in the world through her, not to her. She can dream about what this Messiah can do, and she stays by his side, knowing God can do more – even in the throws of death. Mary is able to do what the psalmist does: “I will bless the LORD at all times; his praise shall ever be in my mouth.”
This is our invitation today – to find our way back into praising and blessing the LORD. I was recently reading about a spiritual discipline of prayer where the person looks back on each day and offers to God at least one thing they are grateful for. The practice seems so simple, but already the practice is changing my prayer life and my attitude toward life in general. This is the shift Mary invites us into today – to bless the LORD at all times and to let God’s praise ever be in our mouths. Amen.