I’m taking a class on the Gospel of Luke this semester, and
one of my assignments is to engage in an ongoing spiritual practice
related to that particular Gospel. So for the entire semester I am
reading the Magnificat daily. It’s a passage that I’ve been drawn to in
recent years, but it has been particularly illuminating to be dwelling
on it during Lent this year, since it is typically confined to the Advent
season. Somehow the triumphal language of the justice that God has
already accomplished fits with the modern treatment of Advent as a
celebratory season. But Lent is a season of penance, which puts an
entirely different spin on the text.
This month millions of families around the world will gather dutifully and joyfully for a traditional ritual meal. Around the edges of some of the more traditional gatherings—the ones where the chief chefs and hosts are grandparents or the age of grandparents—the siblings and cousins of the next-oldest generation will begin to talk together.
Among my friends and acquaintances, the recent made-for-television movie Mary generated little interest. Perhaps that is because I spend too much time with Protestants for whom any display of interest in Mary continues to be slightly suspect.
Ghost Ranch, a Presbyterian haven in New Mexico, in 1968 welcomed its first Catholic speaker, Father Anthony Wilhelm, with whom I was to hold a public conversation. Tony began his days by saying mass in an upper room, before a congregation of Hispanic employees. Couldn’t some of the Protestant Ranch-folk drop in some day? he asked.
At Christmas even the most Protestant among us can be drawn to the contemplation of Mary. It seems right to recall her humble courage, her receiving and carrying and giving birth, and her joy as she sang of the saving work of God.