46 And Mary* said,
‘My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour,
48 for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants for ever.’
56 And Mary remained with her for about three months and then returned to her home.
This, then, is Mary’s song. It is reminiscent of Hanna’s song in 1 Samuel 2, but not identical. Her song quotes bits of many Psalms, and of Isaiah, and from that we gather that Mary knew the scriptures. Mary expresses joy at the great work the Lord is doing – her spirit rejoices with God. She rejoices for what God is doing through her, will do through the child she carries!
We can see here a theme that runs throughout Luke – the coming of Christ, the Kingdom of God in the present lives we live, initiates a reversal, a turning upside down of the values and powers of the world. The proud are brought low; the humble, of whom Mary says she is one, are lifted up; the powerful are brought down – the lowly lifted up; the hungry are filled – the rich sent away empty.
To Mary, this child is the fulfillment of the covenant God made with Israel. God has remembered his promise, and his mercy, and in this child he fulfills that promise forever. Notice the emphasis on future generations. When Luke writes, there is debate among the followers of Christ – why hasn’t he come already? They expected the second coming of Christ to be immediate; some even quit jobs or refused to marry, and waited for Christ’s return. Another thread running through Luke’s story is that this is a timeless story – it will stretch across generations. It will impact humankind forever!