And Mary said:
"My soul exalts the Lord,
And my spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.
For He has had regard for the humble state of His bondslave;
For behold, from this time on all generations will count me blessed.
For the Mighty One has done great things for me;
And holy is His name.
And His mercy is upon generation after generation
Toward those who fear Him.
He has done mighty deeds with His arm;
He has scattered those who were proud in the thoughts of their heart.
He has brought down rulers from their thrones,
And has exalted those who were humble.
He has filled the hungry with good things;
And sent away the rich empty-handed.
He has given help to Israel His servant,
In remembrance of His mercy,
As He spoke to our fathers,
To Abraham and his descendants forever."
So here is Mary, young, pregnant under (in the World's eyes) dubious circumstances, and her response is to praise God for His regard of her. Whatever the World might think of her, she accepted the message the angel Gabriel brought to her and agreed to God's plans. "Let it be to me even as you have said."
Even if she was thrilled by the simple prospect of being a mother (and for many women that is something precious to them), her song of praise here doesn't stop at that point.
She praises God because He has "regarded" her. In several of the other readings so far, we have seen that God does indeed pay attention to us, far more than we expected. The criminal on the cross only wanted to be remembered, but Jesus told him he would join Christ in Paradise. That's "regard." Zacharias, after many years of marriage without the fulfillment of parenthood, is told that he is about to become a father, something he greatly desired. That's "regard."
This is something we can all join Mary is proclaiming. The Lord regards us in our humble circumstances.
But Mary goes beyond that level of praise. She remembers the holiness of the Lord, and all that He has done for His people in the past. He humbles those who think too highly of themselves and their circumstances, and He raises up those who make no presumptions to status.
He fills the hungry with things that are good for them - and sends "the rich" away empty-handed.
For me, that particular part has some immediate meaning, for a combination of reasons.
In my current season of financial challenge, I've fallen into the habit of putting off eating, until I really get hungry. Perhaps not the healthiest practice in the world, but it stretches the groceries. So I've been getting a refresher course on hunger. Oh, I'm not depriving myself so much that I'm starving and in pain. But I do hold off on the eating until the body says "By the way, I really do need some fuel now." So when I reach that point, it is the "good things" that give the greatest satisfaction. When I am hungry, candy is not the answer.
But beyond that immediate, physical matter there is the spiritual side of things. In a Bible study I've been attending, we've been looking at the Beatitudes, and have discussed the meaning of "hungering and thirsting for righteousness." When I was at my deepest need, although I would have been happy to have, say, a lottery jackpot drop into my hands, I knew I wanted to have my needs addressed in a way that the Lord would consider appropriate. To me, that usually means that I have earned my keep. But I have been learning (or rather, relearning) the blessings of grace - to receive unexpected generousity. The rightness that comes from community and caring for each other has been "filling me with good things" - joy, love, gratitude, praise.
And what I have received is small compared to what Mary felt had been given her. The gift to me may have been small (in the perspective of the universe) but my heart is just filled to overflowing. We have so much to be thankful for, so much to praise God for. Let us not be silent about any blessing we received, because joy expressed about a small thing can grow and grow, warming the hearts of those around us.