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Gospel for Monday, August 15 Luke 1: 39-56

Assumption of the Blessed Virgin Mary

39In those days Mary set out towards the mountain and quickly reached a city of Judah. 40Having entered Zechariah’s house, she greeted Elizabeth. 41As soon as Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the baby leaped in her womb. Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit 42and exclaimed in a loud voice: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb! 43Why do I have the mother of my Lord to come to me? 44Behold, as soon as the voice of your greeting reached my ears, the child rejoiced for joy in my womb. 45And blessed is she who believed that the words of the Lord would be fulfilled.” 46Then Mary said: “My soul magnifies the Lord 47and my spirit rejoices in God, my savior, 48because he looked at the humility of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed. 49The Almighty has done great things for me and Holy is his name: 50from generation to generation his mercy extends to those who fear him. 51He has shown the might of his arm, he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts; 52he has overthrown the mighty from their thrones, he has exalted the humble; 53he has filled the hungry with good things, he has sent the rich away empty-handed. 54He helped his servant Israel, remembering his mercy, 55as he promised to our fathers, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” 56Maria stayed with her for about three months, then returned to her home.

Luke 1: 39-56

Dear Sisters and Brothers of the Misericordie, I am Carlo Miglietta, doctor, biblical scholar, layman, husband, father and grandfather (

Also today I share with you a short meditation thought on the Gospel, with special reference to the theme of mercy.

The Magnificat “is the hymn that Mary, pregnant with Jesus, sings while visiting her relative Elizabeth, pregnant with John the Baptist. The evangelist Luke tells us this (1.46-55) and it is the only time in which the words of the mother of Christ expand (there are 102 words in the original Greek, but including articles, pronouns, particles). All the other times – and there are only five – his sentences are short and almost truncated (for example, in Cana during the wedding he attends with his son: «They have no more wine» and «Whatever he [Jesus] will say to you, do it»)” (G. F. Ravasi).

“Why does Maria sing? The most beautiful and most obvious answer is found, perhaps, in a verse by Saint John of the Cross: “All lovers sing!”. Maria sings because she is in love. It is very important to note that the Marian prayer par excellence does not present ideas, but facts. Mary’s prayer is not impersonal or abstract. It blossoms from the most intense, impetuous and committed core of her being. The silent and obedient “slave of the Lord” bursts into shouts of jubilation. Not praising herself, but God the savior” (J. T. Mendonça).

“Let us follow, then, the poetic flow of this Marian psalmody woven onto a palimpsest of biblical allusions…

In the first movement (1.46-49)…, it is the Christians who align themselves with the crowd of the ‘anawîm, that is, “the poor” of the Old Testament. Literally the Hebrew term indicates “he who is bent”, not only under the oppression of the powerful, but also in the humility of adoration towards God, thus overcoming the arrogance of the proud.

These people, the social poor but also the faithful, celebrate, ideally uniting themselves with the voice of Mary and through a septenary of Greek gnomic aorists, God’s imaginative choices which, unlike socio-political logic, do not privilege the powerful but the last and the marginalized, thus overturning historical hierarchies. Here are the seven verbs (numerical symbol of fullness) that mark the second choral movement of the hymn: «He has shown the power of his arm, / he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts, / he has overthrown the mighty from their thrones, / he has he has raised up the humble, / he has filled the hungry with good things, he has sent away the rich empty-handed, / he has helped his servant Israel” (1,51-54).

The Greek “gnomic” aorist wants to remind us that God’s choice obeys a constant, “proverbial” logic, which Christ will also reiterate on several occasions, stating that “the last will be first and the first last” and that “whoever exalts himself will be humiliated and whoever humbles himself will be exalted”…

There is strong hope in the action of the almighty Lord who will reverse the fate of this crooked and unjust human history… As in the parable, exclusive to Luke, of the selfish rich man and the poor Lazarus (16.19-31), an upheaval will take place so whoever is in the dust will rise to the glory reserved by God for the righteous. Mary is the first of this crowd of “the Lord’s poor” and invites all those who repeat, singing, her words to hold high the torch of trust in the Lord” (G. F. Ravasi).

“Mary recognizes her smallness in the face of the greatness of God, and because she recognizes it she can also rejoice. Placing our bare life, our whole and minute life in the hands of God, does not diminish us at all. Saint Paul will write, in line with the Magnificat, “for when I am weak, then I am strong” because God’s grace is sufficient for us (2 Cor 12). Sometimes we wonder what we are missing. What are we missing to feel happy? What are we missing for others to consider us lucky? And we often live in this insatiable restlessness. The Lady of the Magnificat teaches us that we lack nothing, none of us lack anything to allow ourselves to be set on fire and transformed by God’s grace… The weakness we have within us is not an obstacle to his love, contrary to what we think . Let’s let God love our smallness, insignificance, scarcity, our nothingness…

Mary, in this song of hers, emerges as the perfect representative of the believing people. She testifies that God’s love for men is truly authentic, that God is truly faithful to the lives of men, that his promises are fulfilled. In this sense, she who proclaims the Magnificat is the true icon of the people of God on the journey” (J. T. Mendonça).

“To pray the Magnificat is to look out with Mary onto the balcony of the future. Saint Mary, taken up into heaven, victorious over the dragon, brings down on us a blessing of hope, consoling, on everything that represents our pain in living: a blessing on the years that pass, on the tenderness denied, on the solitudes suffered, on the decay of this body of ours, on the corruption of death, on the suffering of dear faces, on our small or large red dragon (Rev 11.19; 12.1-10), which however will not win, because beauty and tenderness are, in time and eternity, stronger than violence” (E. Ronchi)

Happy Mercy to all!

Anyone who would like to read a more complete exegesis of the text, or some insights, please ask me at


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