Mary’s Call for Justice
A devotional by Anthea Kotlan
When my husband and I first banned our daughters from belting out show tunes at dinner in restaurants, some might have found this harsh.
They had been raised on a steady diet of Disney movies where the main character often faced a challenge and therefore broke out into song. In the movies, audience participation was encouraged, and lyrics were often shared on screen. My girls imagined their lives as one big movie, and singing loudly became a role for them to play regularly. We certainly didn’t mind such song-filled hijinks at home, but not at Red Lobster. We realized that the other diners might not want to be served up a soulful rendition of “Under the Sea” with their cheddar bay biscuits.
Tucked into Mary’s origin story found in the first chapter of Luke, readers discover Mary breaking out into song with her cousin Elizabeth. Fresh from her first angelic encounter, Mary arrives at her cousin's house. It is the pre-born John who kicks off the party. He leaped in Elizabeth’s womb when he sensed the Messiah was nearby in an adjacent womb.
Let’s read what Elizabeth says in Luke 1:44-45 (ESV): “For behold, when the sound of your greeting came to my ears, the baby in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Mary responds with a song we now know as, “The Magnificat.” Let’s see Mary’s words in Luke 1:46-55 (ESV): And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked on the humble estate of his servant. For behold, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name. And 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 mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, as he spoke to our fathers, to Abraham and to his offspring forever.”
While the song is beautiful and overflowing with hope-filled lyrics, believers can’t miss the radical nature of what is expressed here. The words themselves are a striking clarion call for justice. Let’s read more about this in Luke 1:51-53 (ESV): “He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; he has brought down the mighty from their thrones and exalted those of humble estate; he has filled the hungry with good things, and the rich he has sent away empty.”
These phrases don’t mince words, but they call for much-needed change. How curious is it that in a patriarchal society living under Roman oppression, the Lord chose to speak a radical message through a young woman with so little social status?
These words are perceived as such a threat that even 2,000 years later, they continue to be silenced. Mary’s radical obedience to God and total surrender gave her a unique opportunity to speak aloud a relevant prophetic message. Today as we read through these words sung by Mary, we see ourselves in the lyrics, “from now on all generations will call me blessed” (Luke 1:48 ESV). We are living in one of the generations that experienced God’s mercy passing through Mary’s obedience.
In closing, consider this: Spend time today reading through Mary’s song designed to magnify the Lord and inquire of Him, “What do you want me to know about You in this?” How might the Lord call you brave and bold in some way? In what areas of life do you feel oppressed?
Where do you see injustice in the world, and how could you choose to respond?
Let’s Pray: Dear Lord, help me to live in a deeper surrender to Your will for my life. May the example of Your servant Mary inspire me to respond with a boldness that can only come from You. Open my eyes to the injustices in our world today that grieve Your heart. Help me by Your power to serve people in ways that bring glory to You. In Jesus’s Holy Name I pray. Amen.
Song of Reflection: “His Plan” by The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir. Listen to it here.
Born in the highlands of Scotland, Anthea Kotlan made her way to Texas as a third grader.
After studying the new language at length and mimicking the Houston locals, she found ways to blend in. Years later she floated down the San Marcos River, attended Journalism classes, and completed an undergraduate degree in in Journalism.
After getting married to Bill, she completed a graduate degree in English at Texas A&M. Ever the multitasker, she had two daughters and carried one of them into her graduation ceremony hidden under her billowing graduation gown.
Over the years she has served as a women’s ministry leader in several churches, spoken at women’s events, taught college freshmen English, lead various Bible studies and writes whenever she can on her blog.
Anthea makes her home in Conroe with her husband Bill, a bi-vocational priest and engineer, and spends all the time she can with her two grandchildren, Ian Michael and Margaret Yael.
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