Dec. 22: Let your life sing

Dec. 22: Third Friday of Advent

Mary said, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord; my spirit rejoices in God my savior” (Lk 1:46).

Advertisement

Decades ago, after successfully completing interviews that would propel me to the final round of a scholarship competition, I floated into the car for the long drive home and immediately popped the Hallelujah chorus from Handel’s “Messiah” into the cassette player (my younger readers may not be familiar with such an antiquated technology). Alone on the highway, I blasted Handel’s glorious anthem at full volume, finding in its majestic energy a perfect outlet for the joy and gratitude I felt.

At moments when we are moved beyond where language can reach, many of us turn to song—as Mary does today. Lifted up by the generous embrace of her cousin Elizabeth, Mary begins to recognize the magnitude of what God has done in her and for her. In joyfully acknowledging the blessings of God’s mercy, she signals her intention to carry them forward, to cooperate fully with God in fulfilling his plan. Mary is not, as she has sometimes been depicted, an archetype of passivity; rather, she models receptivity to God’s message as she proclaims the new world that he is bringing about. Having freely given her body to God to bear His son, she now offers Him her soul and spirit, in Greek her psyche and pneuma. With her Magnificat, she becomes God’s creative instrument—strong, joyful and possessed of the courage to bear his Word into the world.

In human song, the body and soul that the Greeks saw fit to separate are united (in Hebrew, there is no such distinction). Singing Christ into the world takes everything we’ve got—the spirit of God channeled through the human body. Hallelujah!

Prayer: Lord, Animate my spirit with joy, so that I may sing a new song with all my heart and all my soul. , and embrace your life-giving invitation. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

To listen to Bach’s Magnificat, click here.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

Advertisement

The latest from america

Native American protestors hold hands with parishioner Nathanial Hall, right, during a group prayer outside the Catholic Diocese of Covington on Jan. 22, 2019, in Covington, Ky. (AP Photo/John Minchillo)
The furor over a chance meeting between Catholic high school students and Native American protesters underscores the need to listen and learn from indigenous voices.
Marlene LangJanuary 23, 2019
The staggering parliamentary defeat for Prime Minister Theresa May, seen here leaving 10 Downing Street on Jan. 23, pushed the country even further from safe dry land. (AP Photo/Alastair Grant)
After the stunning defeat of Theresa May's exit deal, Scotland is looking anew at independence, and the U.K. government fears economic disaster.
David StewartJanuary 23, 2019
Michael Osborne, a film director, documents the damage from a mud slide next to his home in Los Angeles on Jan. 18, after three days of heavy rain. (AP Photo/Damian Dovarganes)
The conceit of California-as-disaster-movie is ridiculous. But maybe watching our fires and mudslides helps other states consider both their own fragility and their underlying strength.
Jim McDermottJanuary 23, 2019
A commitment to religious liberty demands that effort be devoted to resolving, rather than exacerbating, any real or apparent tension between religious obligation and civil duty.
The EditorsJanuary 23, 2019