DURING ADVENT, I always love reading and reflecting on Mary’s Magnificat, which begins, “My soul magnifies the Lord.” This song is more well-known and treasured within the Catholic Church than in my own tradition; I didn’t fully learn to appreciate it until I started delving deeper into Catholic social teaching. It is easy to gloss over how radical and profound this song of praise is (“He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty”), both when Mary proclaimed these words as well as for us today. This song, which is only found in the gospel of Luke, comes just after Mary greets her cousin Elizabeth, who is pregnant with John the Baptist and whose baby moves within her womb.
Mary’s song provides a timeless dose of pregnant hope during a year that has been characterized by so much peril, loss, and hardship. As we prepare to put 2021 behind us, it is important to take the time to properly lament the tragedy and heartache of this pastyear, including the hundreds of thousands of largely preventable deaths to COVID-19; the ways our democracy and the right to vote have come under increasing assault; the stark, often-devastating reminders of our mounting climate catastrophe; and so much more.