Summary: God turned Mary’s life upside down. Her response - the Magnificat - teaches us many lessons.
The 2004 Olympics have just begun. Athletes from all over the world have been preparing for this moment. Imagine all the time and effort and sacrifice that must go into getting ready to compete in the Olympics! And you know why these athletes have to prepare so hard – the level of competition is so high – the challenge is so great – you have to be completely prepared, physically and mentally, for the Olympics.
Imagine if this is how the Olympics worked – every Olympics, right before the opening ceremonies, the US Olympic committee would choose one person, out of the general population, and asks that person to participate in the Olympics with everybody else. Imagine if that was just part of the program – no matter how young or old you were, no matter how out of shape or unprepared you were – one person gets the call from the Olympic committee to join the team and compete with everybody else. Imagine if last week, the phone rang, and you were told that the Olympic committee has randomly chosen you. That very day, you are supposed to fly over to Athens, put on your tank top and your shorts, and get ready to compete in the 100 and 200 meter hurdles, with all the other athletes of the world.
Would you go? Or would you say, “I can’t go – I have to work.” “I’m not in shape – I’d look foolish running those races.” “I can’t just get up and leave – I have things going on here.” “I’m too old.” “Why don’t you pick someone else who’s more prepared?” Would you try to get out of it, if you were suddenly asked to compete in the Olympics?
That’s not how the Olympics works, but that is how God works. God picks people, regular, ordinary people like you and me, and he asks us to do great things. And it doesn’t matter if you have to work, or if you’re busy, or if you’re too old or too young, or if you’re not ready. There are times when God interrupts what you’re doing and says to you, “I want you to do something great for me.”
That’s what happened to Mary, the mother of Jesus. She was a regular, ordinary girl, probably in her middle teens, living in a small village. She was a peasant who believed in God – nothing special. And then, one day, God told her – you are the one that will be the mother of the Messiah. I have chosen you. How Mary responded to this teaches us how we can respond, when God challenges us, when God turns our lives upside down and asks us to do great things for him.
Now Mary didn’t go to a special school that trained women on how to mother the Son of God. And Mary wasn’t holy. She had sin, just like everybody else. The Bible portrays her as a regular, ordinary, peasant girl who believed that someday a Messiah would come and take away her sins. And then, God turns her life upside down, and tells her that nine months from now, she was going to be the mother of the Messiah.
I’m sure this was a big shock to Mary. She wasn’t part of the upper class of society. She had no experience being a mother. This was inconvenient for her – she was engaged, and this would cause a great deal of stress between her and Joseph. Socially, this wouldn’t look good – an unwed Jewish teenager who is pregnant. I’m sure Mary was wondering to herself, “Why me?”