“My Soul Magnifies the Lord”

December 21, 2023 | By Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.

His Excellency, The Most Reverend Edward K. Braxton, Ph.D., S.T.D.
Diocese of Belleville
December 16, 2023, Third Sunday of Advent
5:00 PM, St. Theresa Church

“My Soul Magnifies the Lord”

(This is the text of the sermon as originally written.  During the actual delivery, some passages were omitted and other comments were added spontaneously.  Nota bene: Time constraints have not prmitted a thorough proofreading. Therefore, there may be some errors in spelling, grammar and punctuation.)

Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ:   

Myriam of Nazareth. That is the actual Hebrew name of the woman whose prayer of praise, “My Soul Magnifies The Lord,” just prayed as our response to the reading from Isaiah. No one ever called the Mother of Jesus by the English name Mary, in her lifetime. Indeed, if we had only the gospel of John, we would not know her name was Mary, since John refers only to “the mother of Jesus.” There is much more to this remarkable woman than a statue on a church pedestal, or a rosy-cheeked maiden in a Christmas nativity scene.

While some scholars question the possibility that an uneducated teenager composed it, Luke places the words of this great Prayer of praise on Mary’s lips, “Magnificat anima mea.”  “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.”  Many Christians listen to this prayer set to Gloria music by composers such as Bach and ignore it’s bold, challenging message. Mary prays this prayer while visiting her kinswoman, Elizabeth after learning, unexpectedly, that she is going to have a son. Elizabeth, too, is expecting a son, John, whose ministry as the forerunner of Jesus was just proclaimed by the Deacon.

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