Lk 1: 39-56

In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me? For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”

And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. 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 powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

New Revised Standard Version, copyright 1989, by the National Council of the Churches of Christ in the United States of America. Used by permission. All rights reserved. USCCB approved.

What keeps you from praising God?

Mary’s magnificat, praising a God who fights for the oppressed, comes off like the war cry of a proletarian uprising, fit for the tongue of Mother Jones, Fannie Lou Hamer, or Mario Savio. The proud will be scattered, the mighty cast from their thrones, the rich sent away empty. But is this a revolution of sheer spite and vengeance against the propertied class? Punishment for the sake of punishment? For some of us, maybe having our possessions and social power stripped away is not punishment but release. It is the only way to make space for Christ to enter; to actually receive the authentic power and unmatchable riches he longs to give. A soul emptied of pride and grasping, like Mary’s, can finally proclaim the glory not of itself but of God. The rich sent away empty may be the best thing that ever happened to them.

What clutters your soul and keeps it from praising God and loving others?

—Br. Joe Hoover, SJ, is a writer, actor, and poetry editor at America: The Jesuit Review and also works with Crown Heights Mutual Aid. He is a Jesuit of the Midwest Province living in New York City.



Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee. Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb, Jesus. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners, now and at the hour of our death. Amen.

—Traditional prayer