Advent is when “great things” happen from God

The Lord Is My Chef Simbang Gabi Recipe for the Soul by Fr. Nicanor F. Lalog II
Wednesday, Simbang Gabi 7, 22 December 2021
1 Samuel 1:24-28   ><]]]]'> + <`[[[[><   Luke 1:46-56
Photo by Rev. Fr. Gerry Pascual at Santuario di Greccio, Rieti, Italy in 2019.

Every evening in our Vespers or Evening Prayer, we priests along with monks and sisters and other devout men and women around the world recite or sing Mary’s Magnificat as a fitting tribute to God’s many great blessings showered upon us at the end of each day.

It is the first song or canticle Luke had placed on the lips of his three major characters in the story of Christmas: Mary, then Zechariah singing the Benedictus upon recovery of his speech after naming his child John according to the angel’s instruction, and thirdly by Simeon singing the Nunc Dimittis at the Presentation of Jesus at the Temple.

These are all praises to God who gives us his biggest blessing in his Son Jesus Christ whose birth we celebrate this Christmas. As I have told you, we sing or recite it in the evening to cap the day as a praise and thanksgiving for the wondrous things God has given us each passing day.

Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior. For he has looked upon his lowly servant. From this day all generations will call me blessed; the Almighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

Luke 1:46-49

In normal circumstances specially among us peoples, whenever we are praised by somebody else, it is customary – even obligatory – that we return their praises.

But not with Mary during her Visitation of her cousin Elizabeth.

After being praised and called as “blessed among women for she believed the words spoken to her would be fulfilled”, Mary in turn praised God instead of Elizabeth because her Magnificat was not only her song but also of Elizabeth and every believer of Jesus Christ as the Son of God who became human to redeem us.

Reminiscent of the canticle by Hannah after the birth of her son Samuel whom we heard offering him to Eli in the first reading, Mary’s Magnificat was borne out of her own experience of God doing great things to her and Elizabeth as individuals which she later widened to include the many “great things” done by God to the Israel as a nation like their Exodus from Egypt and later liberation from Babylonian exile.

“He has mercy on those who fear him in every generation. He has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly.”

Luke 1:50-52

Now in the advent of Jesus Christ, Mary proclaims the good news of salvation in her Magnificat by singing how God has continued doing great things to her and to everyone with something unheard of, so unique and completely different from those great things he had done in the past to give Israel – and us – a future and much to hope for:

He has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has come to help of his servant Israel for he has remembered his promise of mercy, the promise he made to our fathers, to Abraham and his children forever.”

Luke 1:53-55

Here we find again the artistry of Luke working so beautifully, so similar with that event at the synagogue in Capernaum where Jesus inaugurated his ministry by proclaiming the passage from Isaiah that said “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me, because he has anointed me to bring glad tidings to the poor…” (Lk.4:18ff).

In Christ’s coming through Mary, God begins a totally new beginning for everyone for all time!

Photo by author, 20 December 2021.

This Advent, we are reminded of God’s many “great things” done to us individually and as a family, as a nation and as a community, and as a Church.

We are now celebrating the 500th year of our Christianization but does it really matter to us? Are we really thankful to God in making us not only Christians but the only Christian nation in this part of the globe? While we are still in our 500th year of Christianization, let us reflect deeply on this giftedness by God to us as a nation and the great tasks and responsibilities he had given us in spreading the good news like Mary.

But at the same time, Advent invites us to look forward to the future in every present moment when Christ comes to fulfill God’s plans of great things for us.

Are we willing to take the challenge and invitation of God to accept his Son Jesus Christ and bring him forth like Mary into this world so lost in darkness? Do we have a room or a space in our hearts where Jesus may come and grow to fulfill God’s many great things being planned for us and others?

Mary sang the Magnificat not only her lips but with her very life as a witness to God doing great things for her and for others.

May we be like her in giving praise and thanks to God with our very lives of witnessing to Christ’s presence. Amen.

Have a blessed Wednesday!

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