“My soul exults in the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for He has had regard for the lowly state of His handmaid. From this day 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 upon generations of those who fear Him… He casts down rulers from their thrones, and exalts those who were humbled. He fills the hungry with good things, while the rich He has sent empty away…”
Thus runs Mary’s Magnificat, her song in which she praises God’s mercy towards herself – and towards all. I would be among the first (not speaking of chronological order) to maintain that there is no reason to think that, in calling herself lowly, she is saying that she is a sinner. To be a creature is to be small before the Creator – and this is not a bad or unpleasant thing, and does not imply sin of any sort. She declares that she is to be considered blessed, not because of anything in who she is that sets her apart, but because the Mighty One, the Holy One, has done great things for her, and she goes on to declare that He will do great things for all who will receive – fill the hungry and exalt the humbled, those who recognize their lowliness. It is very reminiscent of the Beatitudes, where Jesus says, “Blessed are the poor in spirit, for theirs is the kingdom of Heaven. Blessed are those who hunger, for they will be filled,” and the woes He pronounces, “Woe to those who are well-fed now, for you shall be hungry.”
I don’t understand why people make such a big deal about whether the Blessed Mary sinned. I think some (not all) of the opposition to the idea that she never sinned comes from some very deep-rooted and wrong ideas, such as the idea that only God can be faultless, which is to misunderstand the Glory and Holiness of God, and even to risk blasphemy, suggesting that He has created sin by creating creatures who, by their very nature, must sin. Some of the arguments for why she never sinned are wrong too; if Jesus came to be received into sinners, if He gives Himself for them as their Food and Drink, then how is it inappropriate or impossible for Him to be conceived in the womb of a sinner? He enacts a union much closer with us! But I don’t have any problem with it if God has given someone, whether it is the Blessed Mary or not, the gift of never being subject to sin. I think, however, that the main thing is not whether Mary was conceived immaculate or not, but that we will all be made immaculate, including her, in Heaven with God, through Him whom she bore.
This brings me to the main thing I want to say. If the Blessed Mary was conceived immaculate and never sinned, and could speak of herself as lowly, and want us to praise God for her and consider her blessed only because of Him, at the same time as reminded us that He will exalt all who are humbled and feed whoever is hungry, she can mean that no less now, glorified and immaculate in Heaven. If you regard her as one blessed by God, then listen to her! Whatever you think about the Immaculate Conception, or if you think nothing about it at all, Mary does not want you to talk about how she is closer to God or more filled and permeated by His Grace than anyone else can be; instead, she would say to you, “He will exalt whoever is humble. He will fill whoever hungers. He does not withhold His mercy and grace! Do you hunger to be united with Him? Then you shall be satisfied! Do you know that you are lowly? Then My Son shall raise you up to sit with Him on His throne! Do not think that God has done better for me than for you; He longs to do the best for all! The blood and life of Jesus is precious beyond measure, and as mighty and efficacious as it is precious and costly; it can make the vilest sinner perfect and immaculate, without spot or blemish. I am the lowly one and the Mighty has given me great blessings. He yearns to do the same for all who are lowly!” She would ask you to remember her not as one set apart from the rest of humanity and given blessings the rest of us can only vainly hunger after or faintly imagine, but as one woman whom God blessed mightily, beyond all conception, a sign that He will bless any others who recognize their lowly estate and hunger. We are all called to be God-bearers, to carry His Son within our hearts and souls, and let Him manifest His Divine and Human Childhood in our lives.
Recall how the Blessed Mary called herself lowly and declared that the Mighty One had done great things for her. Do not deny or be ashamed of the great things the Mighty One does in you or in others, and do not set people up, yourself or others, as something other than lowly creatures of God because, recognizing their lowliness, they were vessels capable of being filled with the Glory. These two, recognition of our creaturely and blessed lowliness, and acceptance of the great things God does in, for, and to us, go together; they do not last if they are separated.
It is a great thing to be a creature of God.
Copyright 2020 Raina Nightingale