Earlier in life, I took heart from the Magnificat’s message (Luke 2:46-55). Perhaps God could use me to feed hungry people, cast down the mighty from their seats, show mercy to those who were poor and put humble people in places of power! That felt like a righteous, even prophetic ministry.
I also missed something along the way. I had overlooked another side of Mary’s borrowed and revised song. (See I Samuel 2:1-10 for Hannah’s original version.) Both the younger Mary and the older Hannah admired each other greatly. And for important reasons, too. Over the three months of Mary’s stay at her cousin’s home, they may have expanded on their first exultations of appreciative praise. They may have learned from each other—how each of them exhibited godly traits that were both visionary and exemplary. They were the small version of a mutual admiration society.
Bringing that thought forward into my daily life, I now understand how esteem of others can help bring about what Mary and Elizabeth both hoped for: The redemption of the world writ large by countless small acts of heartfelt (and deserved) praise. I now find around me so many examples of awe-inspiring behaviors and attitudes that it sometimes overwhelms me. The blessings of God show up almost every day in the magnificent actions of others.
My behavior now? I tell people that I admire them. (Yes, those very words!) And then I add a few observations about why and how I feel that way. Sometimes those admired ones defer with humble murmurs. During other conversations, these wonderful people thank me back. We sometimes discover that we may mutually admire each other!
Mary’s song has become mine—”God All-Powerful has done great things for me and his name is holy.” (Luke 1:49 CEV).
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