“My soul magnifies the Lord.”
The simplistic beauty of this phrase astounds me every time I read it.
As the Christmas season begins, it is easy to fall into an annual, monotonous routine: read the Nativity stories, sing “The First Noel”, put donations under a tree in our parish, repeat.
So as I pondered the meaning of Advent and the preparation the season encourages, I reflected on aspects of Christmas that might frequently be overlooked.
A product of an all-girls Catholic high school, I couldn’t help but explore Mary’s role in the Christmas story and how her resounding “yes” changed everything.
“My soul magnifies the Lord,” begins the Magnificat, the prayer Mary rejoiced after the angel Gabriel visited her bringing good news.
Ever since examining this prayer as a high school freshman, this phrase has snuck snuggly into my heart and creeps into my mind now and then for me to revisit its power.
What does it mean to magnify the Lord?
In order to fully understand the power of this phrase, I think it is important to examine another belief intrinsic to the Catholic faith: that we are all created in the image and likeness of Jesus himself.
Therefore, we each share in the divinity of God through Jesus and essentially are Christ. We are all saints and are investors of the kingdom of God here on Earth: we are his kingdom.
Jesus infamously illustrated this concept in Matthew 25:40, when he says, “Truly I say to you, to the extent that you did it to one of these brothers of Mine, even the least of them, you did it to me.”
The fact that we are created in the image of God allows us to see each other not only as our brothers and sisters, but also as godlike and worthy of our upmost honor and respect. As a result, this great privilege of being created in the image of our Creator calls us to be servants of all and see Christ in every person we encounter.
Last night when I revisited that first line of Mary’s hymn, this divinity we all share was called immediately to mind.
Seeing the divinity in others is difficult. Seeing the divinity in ourselves is sometimes nearly impossible.
But God did not create us like his son for us to shrink away from the holiness that each of us possess.
Rather, this Advent season, we are called to fully embrace the birth of Jesus himself, who is reborn in each of us every single Christmas.
Advent encourages us to find new life within ourselves. It prompts a re-ignition of passion and a rediscovering of who we are and who we are called to be.
If one were to peer into my soul, would they find an image of Christ? Am I glorifying God by the life I live through my actions, thoughts, and words?
These questions brought to my mind a quote by Saint Francis of Assissi: “Preach the Gospel at all times. When necessary, use words.”
Yes. Thank you, Saint Francis. This is exactly what I think Mary meant.
Magnifying the Lord means to make every fabric of your life so enraptured by the spirit of Christ that with a closer look it becomes apparent that you are holistically glorifying God.
Your soul is proclaiming God’s greatness. Through the birth of Christ you have inherited the ability to be Christ’s eyes, hands, feet on earth for the rest of those who share in this fully human experience.
As we prepare for the birth of Christ in this Advent season, allow yourself to reflect on the ways you magnify the Lord.
Allow Christ to fully be born through and within you and bring to life in you a spirit of love so powerful that you magnify the Lord with every breath you take.
My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord,
My spirit rejoices in God my Savior
For you have looked with favor on your lowly servant.
From this day all generations will call me blessed:
The Almighty has done great things for me,
And holy is your name.
You have mercy on those who fear you in every generation
You have shown the strength of your arm,
You have scattered the proud in their conceit.
You have cast down the mighty from their thrones, and have lifted up the lowly.
You have filled the hungry with good things, and the rich you have sent away empty.
You have come to the help of your servant Israel,
For you have remembered your promise of mercy,
The promise you made to our ancestors,
To Abraham and Sarah and their children forever.
Written by Jessie Frank