Earlier this morning I was following my normal morning routine that consists of some spiritual reading before my kids wake up and we all charge out to the barn for our morning workout.
Specifically, I found myself reading the first chapter of St. Luke’s Gospel. This brought me to a sentence I’ve read, and heard, many times.
And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden. For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed; for he who is mighty has done great things for me, and holy is his name” Luke 1:46-48 RSV-CE.
Again, we’ve all likely heard these beautiful words from the “Canticle of Mary” many times before. But, as I sat in my pitch-black living room, reading these words from my iPhone screen, one particular phrase caught my attention: My soul magnifies the Lord.
Specifically, the word that really stopped me in my tracks, for whatever reason, was “magnifies.”
Now, the full canticle is also referred to as the “Magnificat” since the Latin version of this text uses the verb magnificat, which, literally translated, means magnifies.
What Does It Mean to Magnify the Lord?
The question I pondered, and continue to ponder, is quite simple: What does it mean to magnify the Lord? And, more specifically, how does our Lady’s soul magnify the Lord?
Well, during my research for this article I came across a beautifully written response to this same question:
So how does Mary “magnify” the Lord? Mary magnifies Him in a similar way as a magnifying glass enlarges and allows us to see whatever we are looking at even better! The magnifying glass doesn’t change the object we are looking at, but enables us to see better all that the object is.
Mary “magnifies” the Lord because God is seen by us as even greater than we may have imagined. He is able to enclose His Infinite Son within the womb of His little human creature. He is so loving that He stoops toward this poor young girl in Nazareth and makes her the Mother of God. What a wonder!
The whole hymn of Mary goes on to praise God for all that He has done. She sings for joy knowing that Jesus is the Promised One Who will redeem us. He Who is mighty has done great things for her! Holy is His Name.
So, while there are likely far more articulate theological explanations available, it would seem accurate to say that our Blessed Mother is, in fact, able to help us better see and experience our Lord if we’d only let her.
Put another way, Mary’s soul, if we choose to look through it, will indeed magnify the Lord.
Do We Magnify the Lord?
And while sacred scripture is clear about Mary’s role in this magnification process… what about us?
Do our souls magnify the Lord? Do people see, and experience, our Lord in a more profound way as a result of the way they see us living our lives and interacting with them?
Perhaps this is something we can all take to prayer in the coming days. In fact, I’m quite confident our Lady would be interested in hearing from us on this very topic.
Finally, some bible translations, including the USCCB version, swap the word magnifies with proclaims. Some Protestant translations use the word praises.
Unfortunately, it would seem, these latter translations are less than ideal. My good friend, and fellow Troops of St. George Brother in Christ, Dr. Taylor Marshall wrote an excellent article on this very topic where he breaks down the Greek… so if you’re into that sort of thing I’d encourage you to check it out.
Until next time… be holy, eat clean, and do more push-ups!