And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant.
For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
And his mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts;
he has brought down the mighty from their thrones
and exalted those of humble estate;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent away empty.
He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
~Luke 1:46-55 (ESV)
As I continue this Advent to reflect on Mary’s words of praise, I cannot help but wonder about Mary’s rejoicing. She confirms for us that joy is a relational emotion because she is rejoicing in God her Savior. Moreover from her story, we grasp the reality that joy interrupts our lives when the unexpected descends upon us, as it did for Mary when God looked upon her humble estate.
Nicolas Poussin’s 1857 painting of the Annunciation depicts the Divine’s interruption and unexpected descent, which brought Mary so much joy she was eventually compelled to write about it. The desert father, St. Seraphim of Sarov wrote this about the Holy Spirit’s descent: When the Sprit of God descends on a man, and envelops him in the fullness of his presence, the soul overflows with unspeakable joy, for the Holy Spirit fills everything he touches with joy.
I would imagine that Mary’s pregnancy was touched with joy as she waited for the Divine’s interruption and the unexpected descent from heaven of the Son of the living God. In these days of Advent, we anticipate with Mary the birth of our Lord and Savior, in whom we experience true community and the fullness of joy.
I bless the Lord who gives me counsel;
in the night also my heart instructs me.
I have set the Lord always before me;
because he is at my right hand, I shall not be shaken.
Therefore my heart is glad, and my whole being rejoices;
my flesh also dwells secure.
For you will not abandon my soul to Sheol,
or let your holy one see corruption.
You make known to me the path of life;
in your presence there is fullness of joy;
at your right hand are pleasures forevermore.
~Psalm 16:7-11 (ESV)
May our whole beings rejoice in Jesus the fullness of our joy.
A terrific commentary on Joy! Maybe a church could use this theme during Advent…