“From this day all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:48b)
On the Solemnity of the Annunciation we reflected on the FIAT of the Blessed Virgin Mary: her yes to the will of the Father, her obedience to the eternal design of God. Today we reflect on her MAGNIFICAT: her song of praise for the Father who did wonderful things not only for her but also for her people, Israel. We shall focus on the words prophesying her being called blessed by all generations.
When Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, Elizabeth declared,
“Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb” [Luke 1:42].
Elizabeth considered it as a great honour to be visited by Mary, the mother of her Lord [v43] and told her cousin that the baby in her womb leaped upon her hearing of Mary’s voice [v44]. She also told Mary how blessed she is for having received the fulfillment of God’s promise [v45]. And what follows was Mary’s song of praise, also called the Canticle of Mary, the MAGNIFICAT, the first word of the Latin translation of the first line of the song which means GREATNESS.
Grateful for Greatness
Who would not be moved to be truly and sincerely grateful for the greatness of God? Mary’s gratitude is because she is singularly chosen to become the earthly mother of the only-begotten Son of the Father. Jesus Christ is co-eternal with God and from all eternity, He was with God and through Him, God has created everything. If Jesus is God, His mother is the Mother of God. Surely, for having been accorded with such singular honour for her simplicity, humility and obedience, she truly deserves to be called BLESSED by all generations! Bede the Venerable puts it well when he says, “Mary attributes nothing to her own merits. She refers all her greatness to the gift of the one whose essence is power and whose nature is greatness, for he fills with greatness and strength the small and the weak who believe in Him.”
So when we call Mary BLESSED, we are not only acknowledging her important role as Mother of the Saviour, who is also God and so making her the Mother of God too. We are also praising God and ultimately recognizing Him for the wonders that He did through someone like this humble young girl from Nazareth. And whenever we call Mary BLESSED, she does not keep this honour to herself. She returns the praise to God saying, MY SOUL MAGNIFIES THE LORD!
You are Blessed
Like Mary, we are all blessed, because we received God’s grace upon baptism. St Paul tells us that through the waters of Baptism, “the love of God has been poured out into our hearts through the Holy Spirit who was given to us” (Rom 5:5). We are further blessed when we receive the other Sacraments along our pilgrimage particularly the Sacraments of the Holy Eucharist and Reconciliation. We are blessed because the Holy Spirit has made our bodies His dwelling place, His temple (cf. 1Cor 6:19). We are blessed when we obey the will of God in our lives and cooperate with His grace to perform acts of charity and mercy. Like Mary proclaim the greatness of the Lord, give Him glory, and magnify Him in your life. Realise that you matter to those in your life. God’s blessings to them comes through you; through everything you do, say and think.
Our women have a lot to learn from Mary and Elizabeth about how to make the home a place where God is loved and encountered. In the simple chores you do and your faithfulness to your marriage, your home can become God’s dwelling place among His people, a true haven of sweet charity, of fruitful and faithful love.
Filled with the Spirit
Many people, within and outside the Catholic Church, abhor the practice of giving honour and praise to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Scripture tells us that Mary was so filled with the Holy Spirit that her greeting filled Elizabeth with the Holy Spirit and cause the infant in her womb to leap with joy. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, calls Mary “blessed” [vv 43, 45]. The Blessed Virgin Mary, rejoicing in God her saviour, gives praise to the Father and prophesies that all generations will call her Blessed [v48]. During the Annunciation, the Angel Gabriel, delivering God’s message, calls her “full of grace”  and told her that she had earned God’s favour [v30]. Any objections to these passages of scripture proves the point that Saint Paul makes when he said that it is only when we are filled with the Spirit can we say that Jesus is Lord. The Spirit inspired both Elizabeth to acknowledge God’s presence in the womb of Mary. The same Spirit must reside in you to enable you see that she is exceedingly blessed among God’s creatures.
Here’s an inspiring story about a Protestant boy who became a Catholic priest later in life because of the Hail Mary, a prayer he heard from his Catholic friends. Initially prohibited by his mother from saying the prayer, he was told that it is a superstitious prayer of Catholics. He was given the Bible to read instead. But then he found the words of the prayer in Luke 1:28 and 42.
You have to truly understand your faith in order to lead others to knowledge of the true faith, just like the friends of this Protestant boy who recited the Hail Mary. If you do not understand why the Church honours the Blessed Virgin, you cannot hope to withstand non-Catholics polemics about giving her the undue honour which detracts from the glory of Christ.
People who do not understand how to properly honour Mary are afraid that she might take our attention off the Lord Jesus Christ, the only mediator between God and man. Mary does not take us away from the Lord; instead, she leads us to Him and tells us the right thing to do which is, “Do whatever He tells you” (John 2:5). Her place is beside her Son who leads us to true happiness and peace in the unity of the undivided Trinity. We who call her mother are obeying the words of Christ to behold her as our mother and model of holiness (cf. Jn 19:26,27; Rev 12:17).