Friday of the Third Week of Advent
(I Samuel 1:24-28; Luke 1:46-56)
One is hard-pressed to find a relationship between the reading and the gospel today. It might be asked: “What does the account of Hannah’s delivering her son into the Lord’s service have in common with Mary’s praise of the Lord?” The answer may be found in a more extensive reading of the First Book of Samuel. After dedicating her son to the Lord, Hannah utters a discourse much like Mary’s hymn of praise to God in the gospel. Hannah too tells of the mighty being humbled, the well-fed searching for bread, and the poor being lifted up.
Nevertheless, Mary goes further than her Old Testament counterpart in praising the Lord. She anticipates the preaching of her son by saying how God has already blessed her, His “lowly servant.” In Luke’s gospel Jesus continually reiterates the message of the world’s order being turned upside down with the coming of the Kingdom. He tells of the wealthy being humbled and the poor being elevated, oppressors being silenced while the suffering are relieved. Mary says something similar but pertinent to her situation. God has shown favor to her by making her the bearer of His son. Furthermore, he is rescuing Israel by sending His Son as the nation’s savior.
Mary is doing the work of a preacher who brings to life God’s word in present circumstances. It is not enough for a homilist to retell the gospel; he or she must apply it to contemporary times if listeners are to find hope in meeting present challenges. Similarly, we should share with others how we have found Christ’s message resonating in our lives. For example, the marginalized are being given priority when refugee families are assisted in finding housing and work in our communities.