My heart exults in Yahweh;
I rejoice in the power of his salvation.
He has satisfied the hunger of the poor.
The famished cease from their labour.
He raises the poor from the dust.
He gives the needy a place among the princes.
He assigns them a seat of honour.
These verses from the first book of Samuel are extracts from the proclamation of Hannah, the mother of Samuel, after she received the news that she was to bear a son. And these are from the canticle which we call the Magnificat, delivered by Mary the mother of Jesus in an identical situation:
My soul tells of the greatness of the lord.
My spirit rejoices in the salvation of my God.
The Almighty has done great things for me.
He has pulled down the princes from their throne and exalted the poor and needy.
He has filled the hungry with good things and sent the rich away empty.
I have selected some of the verses that have the clearest verbal echo. Hannah’s emphasis is more on the military power of Yahweh. Mary’s on God’s thirst for justice. But what these two women have in common is their recognition that the births of their two babies were so important that they must be seen in a cosmic, a religious and a political setting. It was the political aspect of Mary’s role that Anne emphasised in her sermon in Advent.
I want to concentrate on Mary’s pivotal role as organiser, interpreter, manager of her son.
There is no substitute for attending church – the communion, the community (the coffee and biscuits at the end!) ...but if you do miss a Sunday service you can find past sermons here