Wednesday, January 1, 2014

“My Soul Proclaims…”

We have all heard the words of Mary’s hymn of praise in Luke 1:46-55: “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord…”
So does your soul, if you listen to it.

Is God great? Do you know that? How often do you think about it? Praise him for it?

In the Gloria at Mass Catholics sing, “We give you thanks for your great glory!” But how often do any of us say during the week, “My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord”?

If we don’t proclaim it, we won’t be aware of it.

If we are not aware of it, we will not experience the relationship we have with God as rational persons. Because we can “read his mind” and follow the thought-process that guided creation, we know we are like him. We are “kindred spirits.”

Admiration is awareness of understanding. Understanding is awareness of relationship. Relationship is the key to existence itself, because the mystery of the Being of God – of the One who alone can say, “I Am Who Am” – is the mystery of Three Persons in relationship: the Father, Son and Spirit. The Three-in-One are exactly the same in “what” they are (their nature), but they differ in “who” they are as persons by their interaction with each other, which is their relationship.

At its source, which is God, Being is relationship. So all who are created in the image of God achieve the fullness of being through relationships -- that is, by interacting with creation, with each other and with God.

Our first interaction with God should be recognition, appreciation and praise. Followed by thanksgiving.

Mary said, “My spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.” God chose to interact with her.

Has he not chosen to interact with you? How has he loved you? Can you “count the ways?”

More important: Do you count the ways? And praise and thank him for each one of them? (To see how, read Psalm 136, which begins: “O give thanks to the LORD, for he is good, for his steadfast love endures forever,” and gives examples. So do Psalms 146 and 147. Try them for starters).

Mary continued: “Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”

Don’t you know the whole human race, seeing you in heaven, will call you blessed for all eternity? We will all call each other blessed, and praise God who “has done great things” for every one of us, saying “Holy is his name!”

Why not start now? Praise and thank God for what he has given to those you know and work with. And to yourself.

No one throws a forward pass without using a gift of God. And no one misses one without experiencing – without demonstrating – the gift that made him able to try.

God’s gift is not in the winning, but in the ability to try. And that is true of everything.

He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.

If we think we are better because we win – physically, mentally, or even morally – we are losers. God’s “mercy is for those who fear him” – not those who are “afraid,” but those who have the true essence of fear, which is perspective. Those who recognize the difference – and the distance – between themselves and God. Those who see that they are nothing and he is All know how to respect him.

To them God draws near. He “lifts up” those who know they need it. He “fills with good things” those who are “hungry,” who are aware of their emptiness.

But we need hope. We need confidence based on God’s promises.

God “remembers the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” And so should we. Remember and praise and thank him for his promises and their fulfillment.

Life is all about interacting with God in response to his interaction with us. That is, it’s all about forming relationship with God. Or more precisely, sharing in the relationship the Three Persons have with each other:

May they all be one. As you, Father, are in me and I am in you, may they also be in us… The glory that you have given me I have given them, so that they may be one, as we are one, I in them and you in me, that they may become completely one, so that the world may know that you have sent me and have loved them even as you have loved me (John 17:21).

We respond as Mary did:

My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.
He has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.
The Almighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.

We owe him thanksgiving and praise.

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