Recently I heard, “My soul is joyful, my spirit is glad,” the song of joy and praise that was sung by Mother Mary in the name of faith in God during “the Year of Faith.”
We are taught to rejoice with holy joy to God’s honor. In the beginning, when Mother Mary was chosen to be His Mother, the Church was clothed with salvation. That is the reason she sings, “Upon this account I will greatly rejoice in the Lord.” Those of us who rejoice in God have cause to rejoice greatly, and we need not fear running into an extreme in the greatness of our joy when we make God the gladness of our joy. The first Gospel song too began like this, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior” (Lk 1:46-47).
The reason for her joyful praise is that in and through her, God brought her in and clothed her with holiness to bring salvation to the world. By her obedience, eventually Mother Mary clothed the Church with eternal salvation. Mother Mary, as a bride coming out of her chamber, was completely dressed with holiness for God. Such is the beauty of Mother Mary, clothed with the robe of holiness.
The image of God was renewed upon her by Christ and by the sanctification of the Holy Spirit. She was decked as a bride to be espoused to God and taken into covenant and communion with Him. In the progress and continuance of this good work, Mother Mary is pleasing with the holiness and salvation that Jesus Christ has clothed her with.
She rejoices to think that these inestimable blessings will spring forth salvation for future ages and spread to distant regions like the fruits of earth which are produced every year from generation to generation. Our root, as the followers of Jesus Christ, is fixed like that of Mother Mary. We need to flourish more and more, growing in faith and spreading our faith far and wide, and springing forth before all the corners of the world and the ends of the earth by proclaiming and witnessing.
In the Gospels, Mary appears most prominently in the birth narratives of Matthew and Luke: having accomplished the work she had been asked to do (Lk 1:26ff), she breast-fed God. Undertaking nurture as power, she called for care of the poor, the oppressed, and the downtrodden.
She also appears in the stories of Jesus’ ceremonial purification (Lk 2:22-38), at once crying and celebrating. Her expression of emotion evidences the power of emotional energy. Tears of compassion, righteous anger, shared joy — all are sources of power.
During the flight to Egypt (Mt 2:13-15), she spoke God’s justice when she saw the depths of human misery and need. She can teach us about the power of reciprocal talk. She returned to Nazareth (Lk 2:41-50), pondered God’s actions in her life, taking account of her son, her kinfolk and her community. She can teach us about the power of deep reflection on the human relationships that are part of our world.
The Wedding Feast at Cana
At the wedding at Cana in Galilee, Jesus listened and accepted the suggestions from His mother who revealed her faith in Jesus as the One able to fulfill the needs of the people by means of a sign (Jn 2:1-11).
We also find her being concerned for Jesus’ safety (Mk 3:21,31f), present at the Cross, sharing the bitter anguish and pain, and following Jesus loyally as an ideal disciple (Jn 19:25f), as well as waiting in the upper room along with the brothers and sisters of Jesus and the disciples (Acts 1:14).
From the above mentioned points it is clear that Mary’s model of partnership and mutual empowerment embodies both an ethic of caring and an ethic of compassion. In this model, reason and emotion are balanced; wholeness and connectedness are central values. These, along with the elements of empowerment, enable the shift from power exercised from a dominant–subordinate posture to power exercised in partnership.
Mary as Our Model
Can we imitate Mother Mary as our model in partnering, animating and leading our communities and the Church? If we do it, we too can sing like Mother Mary in our lives. It was a grace of God, it was a blessing of God and it was the providence of God that caused Mother Mary to go ahead with her own journey of faith singing, “My soul is joyful, my spirit is glad” in spite of her struggles and suffering.
As we congratulate her on her being the grace-filled, stainless, new Eve and on her accomplishment of the foregoing promises to humankind, we, the people of God, also need to understand changes in our way of life as Catholics and as disciples of Jesus in building His Kingdom in our churches and communities and witnessing Christ in spite of human hurdles. So, joining Mother Mary, we sing “My soul is joyful, my spirit is glad” for all those moments of grace and showers of blessing during our years of service as His priests.
Father Singarayar, S.V.D., is a member of the India Mumbai Province of the Society of the Divine Word. Presently, he is an assistant at Sacred Heart Church, Andheri-East, Mumbai, India.