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December 1979

He has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid. (Luke 1:48)

Do you know where to find these words in the Gospel? Do you know who spoke them? Of course you do!

Mary is a name written on the hearts of everyone and therefore on yours too. She has found a way into all our hearts as only a mother can. She used these words to give glory to God if front of her cousin Elizabeth, in the song that we call the 'Magnificat': it begins.

My soul glorifies the Lord,
My spirit has found joy in God who is my Saviour,
Because he has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid.

He has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid.

In the Old Testament, the expression God looks graciously upon... is used to indicate the active love of God who watches over and intervenes to help his own. Here he 'looks graciously upon' Mary in order to bring about the salvation of mankind.

'Lowliness' means being nothing or counted as little. It is the necessary condition for being the 'handmaid' of the Lord

He has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid.

So why has God looked graciously upon Mary? Why did he select this young girl from all the girls in the world, and entrust to her the incredible task of becoming the mother of the Son of God, of Jesus-God?

Although Mary has a special destiny, and the elect of God are few, God looks graciously upon all of us to a certain extent. If that were not so, Jesus would not have been able to say to all of us those words which are always very moving, 'But even the hairs of your head are all numbered’ (Matt. 10:30).

Yes, God looks graciously upon you too. He has considered for you a magnificent history, he has prepared for you a splendid plan, and you will be able to live this history and realise this plan, if in every moment of every day, just like Mary, you do the will of God.

He has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid.

Lagrange, the well-known French theologian, says that in these verses, Mary is not speaking of her humility, but living it. Mary takes up the most perfect attitude before God. Have you noticed? What conduct could be more intelligent, more suitable, more conforming to faith, for someone in front of God?

Isn't it logical to present yourself before the Lord of heaven and earth, before the Creator of the universe, with complete openness to his words, an absolute readiness to do his will, and a full knowledge of one's own littleness?

Mary did just that, and with this attitude she collaborates in the most effective way with the action of God.

Furthermore, because she conducts herself so perfectly, Mary is the model for every Christian. So you too can play a full part in the working out of your divine destiny, as long as you are ready to die to yourself in order to make room for the action of God. This is true for every believer.

He has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid.

God cares in a special way for those people whom the world excludes, despises, and holds of no account. It is through them that he manifests his power. In fact it is written, 'God chose what is foolish in the world to shame the wise. God chose what is weak in the world to shame the strong, God chose what is low and despised in the world, even things that are not...' (1 Cor 1:27-29).

The God in whom we believe is like that. He is not afraid to spoil the idea of his greatness that men make for themselves, by taking the side of the weak, the vulnerable and the poor. Our God is such that he shatters everything that appears to be security, strength and support, such as riches and honour.

He has a special love for the simple. As he acted with Mary, so he has done with those whose names have been recorded in history because they were benefactors of mankind or because they were destined to carry one of his messages to men. I'm speaking about the saints.

Where did he fish for his apostles? Where did he find John Bosco, the Curé d'Ars, Angela Merici, Martin de Porres, Gemma Galgani? Where did Bernadette come from and the children of Fatima?

In such a God lies the hope of believers and particularly of those who feel oppressed and powerless in the consumer society of the world today, dominated by injustice on a vast scale and by those who are powerful.

Are you a farm labourer, a factory worker, a fisherman, a housewife, an office worker or a child? Rejoice because God has a special liking for you. Or, on the other hand, are you rich? Do you have you the issues of your country in your hands? Are you noble, or are you in the upper ranks of society? Make yourself poor in spirit, simple, and humble, because God will then not be far from you.

God 'looks graciously upon' you if you are like Mary. In fact:

He has looked graciously upon the lowliness of his handmaid.

Chiara Lubich


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