A great gift before Christmas: The Magnificat


This morning, when I was celebrating the Eucharist at 8.30 am in our parish Church dedicated to the Holy Trinity at Marsa, in Malta, I felt so blessed! This was the Gospel reading for the day taken from Luke 1:46-55:

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

I still remember the great experience I had in Medjugorje when I was praying with another person in front of the Blue Cross. Three youths came to me to be blessed. And, as I blessed with the exorcised oil in one of them the evil spirit started to manifest. To say it frankly, I am not an exorcist. Thus, I could do the exorcism prayer. Obedience to Mother Church is essential. So, what could I do in this situation?

Our Merciful Lord and Our Holy Mother, reminded me of an experience I had on the plane way back in 2007. As we were heading to Lourdes the evil one started manifesting himself in a woman. What could we do on the plane? There were no exorcist around? So, what we did was to pray the Canticle of Mary, The Magnificat, and, after the eight time the evil one left her alone.

The same story happened in Medjugorje. After spending time pray the Magnificat, the evil one left the person alone. He was so happy that he came and hugged me. And I, infront of God’s loving mercy, gave me the Rosary I had to keep it for himself to pray the Rosary with it.

Why is the Magnificat so powerful? Why the evil one could stand it? These are some of the reasons the Holy Spirit taught which I would like very much to share them with you! First, the Magnificat comes from the Mother of God, Mary, the sinless, the Immaculate, the Hand maid of the Lord. The evil one can’t really tolerate her humility. He is pride in person and Mary is humility in person. Second, the Magnificat is the canticle that comes from a pregnant woman. Satan is against life so much so that he is the one behind abortion. Whereas Mary is the opposite, she is for life because Her Son is life itself (John 14:6). Third, the Magnificat is the power of the lowly, that is of those who let God be God in their lives. Satan is precisely the opposite, he is the proud who opposes God all the time.

Fourth, the Magnificat is the Song of praise to God himself. Mary magnifies the Lord for what He is doing in her life. It is not about her but about Him! On the contrary satan does not want to praise God because he wants all the attention only on himself. Fifth, Mary is unique in the Magnificat because her YES to God’s plan was full. She really meant it from top to bottom. Her humble docility to the Holy Spirit will be venerated throughout the ages. Sixth, the Magnificat of Mary shows the incredibly fascinating way God has worked in human history. As a matter of fact, Pope Benedict XVI holds that the Canticle of Mary mentions at least seven modes in which God has acted in human history. In his cathecesis of February 15, 2006 this great Pope says:

In the original Greek of Luke’s Gospel, we have seven aorist verbs that indicate the same number of actions which the Lord carries out repeatedly in history:  “He has shown strength… he has scattered the proud… he has put down the mighty… he has exalted those of low degree… he has filled the hungry with good things… the rich he has sent empty away… he has helped… Israel”.

In these seven divine acts, the “style” that inspires the behaviour of the Lord of history stands out:  he takes the part of the lowly. His plan is one that is often hidden beneath the opaque context of human events that see “the proud, the mighty and the rich” triumph.

Yet his secret strength is destined in the end to be revealed, to show who God’s true favourites are:  “Those who fear him”, faithful to his words:  “those of low degree”, “the hungry”, “his servant Israel”; in other words, the community of the People of God who, like Mary, consist of people who are “poor”, pure and simple of heart. It is that “little flock” which is told not to fear, for the Lord has been pleased to give it his Kingdom (cf. Lk 12: 32). And this Canticle invites us to join the tiny flock and the true members of the People of God in purity and simplicity of heart, in God’s love.

Finally, the Magnificat openy shows Mary’s adoration of God, quite contrary to satan who does not know how to spell this word let alone doing it! And here it would be so beautiful if we let the great Father of the Church, St Ambrose, help us grow in our adoration to God by the Magnificat. In his commentary on the Magnificat St Ambrose writes: May Mary’s soul be in each one to magnify the Lord, may Mary’s spirit be in each one to rejoice in God; if, according to the flesh, the Mother of Christ is one alone, according to the faith all souls bring forth Christ; each, in fact, welcomes the Word of God within…. Mary’s soul magnifies the Lord and her spirit rejoices in God because, consecrated in soul and spirit to the Father and to the Son, she adores with devout affection one God, from whom come all things and only one Lord, by virtue of whom all things exist.

During the Angelus of the Assumption feast of 2020 Pope Francis told us: What does our Mother advise us? Today in the Gospel the first thing she says is: “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Lk 1:46). Accustomed to hearing these words, perhaps we no longer pay attention to their meaning, perhaps we no longer pay attention to their meaning. To “magnify” literally means “to make great”, to enlarge. Mary “aggrandises the Lord”: not problems, which she did not lack at the time, but the Lord. How often, instead, we let ourselves be overwhelmed by difficulties and absorbed by fears! Our Lady does not, because she puts God as the first greatness of life. From here the Magnificat springs forth, from here joy is born: not from the absence of problems, which come sooner or later, but joy is born from the presence of God who helps us, who is near us. Because God is great. And, above all, God looks on the lowly ones. We are His weakness of love: God looks on and loves the lowly.

Let us enlarge God and not sin! Let us aggrandise the Lord and not our sinful egos! Amen! Halleluiah! What a great gift for Christmas the Magnificat has been! Let us use this gift by praying it daily, especially when the peace of our homes and communities and our personal well being is in danger!

Fr Mario Attard OFM Cap