Luke 1:46-50 ( Magnificat; Mary’s song)
46 And Mary said:
“My soul exalts the Lord,
47 And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
48 “For He has had regard for the humble state of His servant;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
49 “For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
50 “And His mercy is upon generation after generation,
Toward those who fear Him.
This advent week is focused on Love. Most times, when we hear the word love in the advent context, we think of the death of Jesus on the cross. Specifically, following the theology of atonement, his death gives us salvation. For this post, I have decided to focus on Mary, the mother of Jesus. The intent is that we broaden our idea of love and what it looks like to live out this type of love.
The word love is something that is hard to understand in the English Language. We use the same word for loving of an object, person, or an emotion. We use the same word to describe how we feel about our significant others and food. There seems to be a world of difference between those two things.
The word love in greek is agape. This type of love is a not a feeling that happens to us it is a choice we make to love other like ourselves. Love is when we seek what is best for other people. Love is helping those who are in difficult situation. This is how we reflect God’s heartbeat. What is interesting about this word in greek, “agape,” is that the definition came from an answer that Jesus gave his followers. When Jesus was asked what the meaning of life was, he said it was to love God and your neighbor as yourself. When I read this, while reflecting on Mary’s poem, I see God’s love being manifested and being birthed within her. This God fearing, self accepting, others focused love shows us the very character of God. We can say this because this is how Jesus loved. After the death and resurrection of Jesus, we are told that we are to love God, and love people, and that both are in separable. Our challenge is to receive God’s love as self accepting and others focused.
Self Accepting Love
Mary expresses that “God looked on the humble soul of his servant.” When Mary says this, she is receiving the gift of being known by God. This phrase speaks about Mary believing God saw her as a person with value. God sought her out in a world full of people. God saw this fourteen year old girl and found her worthly. How wonderful would it be for us to receive the love of God this season? His love that tells us, “I see you.” God knows us and we find favor in His eyes. This is how Mary must have felt knowing that Yahweh had seen her. The love of God is a gift that we cannot gain or loose. Free yourself from guilt or the pressure to perform for God. He sees you and loves you.
Others Focused Love
Often times when we read the bible we see ourselves as the main characters in the story. We think we are Jews and not Gentiles. For example, in this passage, we read it as if we were Mary. But what if we shift the focus off of ourselves? An others focused love says that God also…”looked on the humble soul of his [other] servant.” In other words, God also sees others. For many of us the challenge will be to make space for other people to be known by God. Our biggest hurdle to get over will be that God also sees them. The second challenge for us this week is to live out an others focused love. This type of love knows, accepts, and believes that God also loves our neighbors as he loves us.
This season of Advent is so important because it allows us to realign ourselves to the hope, faith, love, and joy of Jesus’ birth, life, death, and resurrection. Our prayer is that this would be fulfilled in all of us.