Sermon for St. Mary, Mother of Our Lord, 2021

Text: Luke 1:39-55

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

We all have different definitions as to what make a person well-known or famous. Much of that has to do with our own interests and hobbies. I could probably name 10 professional cyclists and not a one of you would know who they are. To me, they’re famous. To you, they’re not. You could probably do the same thing to me with popular actors or musicians or famous Arkansas Razorbacks. To you, these people are famous. To me? Not so much.

But it is absolutely true that we all know who Mary is. She is the mother of Jesus. Even though it may seem odd to our ears to say it, she can properly be called the Mother of God because Jesus is both true God and true man. Even before she was carrying the Christ-child in her womb, though, she was significant. She had royal blood. She was in the Davidic line. To the Jews, this was a big deal.

Or at least it was a big deal. The fact is that a son of David hasn’t reigned on the throne of Israel in quite some time. King Herod isn’t part of David’s family. He’s not even a Jew. Caesar probably doesn’t know who David is. If he does, he doesn’t care.

It’s not much better when you look to the Jews who know Mary. Do they care that she’s part of the royal line? Probably not. After all, it’s been a thousand years or so since David reigned on the throne. He’s got lots of descendants at this point in time. To Israel, Mary is nobody of any significance. Mary knows that the Son of God is in her womb. The angel Gabriel told her. Elizabeth knows it. Look at what she says in verse 43 of our Gospel reading: “And why is this granted to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” John the Baptist, currently residing in the womb of Elizabeth even knows it. He leaps for joy in Elizabeth’s womb at the greeting of Mary. Sadly, though, that’s the end of the list. Three people out of all Israel know the significance of Mary and the baby that she carries. To everyone else, Mary is young, unwed pregnant girl. The child she carries is, as far as they know, a bastard. Mary carries Jesus, the creator of the universe in her womb. She should be esteemed and honored. But she is not. She is insignificant and unimportant to them.

It gets worse, though. This child that she bears, the Savior of the world, is rejected by his own people. So rejected is he that he is hung upon a cross as a common criminal. They crucified him because they said he incited riots. He didn’t. They crucified him for saying that you didn’t have to pay taxes to Caesar. He didn’t say that. They crucified him because he said he was the Son of God. Ultimately, Jesus, the one born of Mary, is crucified not for doing anything wrong, but for being who he it. He should have been celebrated, but he was rejected and executed instead.

Poor Mary is helpless to do anything. She knows better. So did John the Baptist. So did Elizabeth. They knew who Jesus was and why he came. But none of them matter to the Jews. They are poor and insignificant.

We know that there is good news in all of this, of course. Jesus is able to do his greatest work of all when he appears to be at his weakest. For it is in his death that he destroys death for all time. It is in his death that he, as Mary sings, “brings down the mighty from their thrones and exalts the lowly.”

Who is it that was sitting on the throne? Satan himself. From the time of the fall into sin, Satan ruled this world. From the time that all were conceived, they were under his power. This is what resulted from Adam and Eve’s fall into sin. Every human being born of man would be under the power of the devil. Satan would reign in their hearts and minds. Jesus, in his death and resurrection, tears Satan out of his throne and crushes his head.

Who is it that is lowly? Mary certainly was. She was bestowed the greatest honor ever given to a woman. As Elizabeth said to her, “Blessed are you among woman, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” We might recognize that as part of the opening portion of a Roman Catholic “Hail Mary,” which makes us slightly uncomfortable, but it’s right there in God’s Word. Mary is blessed. There could be no greater honor.

But we are also lowly. We are lowly because of our sin. All of the sins that Jesus was accused of, we are guilty of. We are the ones who rebel against authority. We are the ones who commit idolatry. We are the blasphemers and thieves. We are the ones who deserve to suffer and die for our sins. We are the lowly.

But Jesus exalts us. He exalts us by delivering his forgiveness to us that he won for us on the cross. We, who were lowly because of our sin are now exalted and presented to our Heavenly Father as righteous for the sake of Jesus.

For this, it is good that we sing Mary’s song, the Magnificat. I was once told by someone that the Magnificat was a women’s song because it was sung by Mary. The Magnificat is not just Mary’s song or the song of all women, though; it is the song of the Church. For the Church recognizes what God is doing for her in Christ Jesus. It is the song of her salvation. Let us, along with the Church of all ages, magnify the name of the Lord.

In the name of the Father and of the + Son and of the Holy Spirit. Amen.

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