“Mary’s silence is admirable,” notes the Navarre Bible’s commentary on Matthew 1:19, in which Joseph, distressed and perplexed at the pregnancy of his betrothed, is told in a dream not to be afraid to marry her, “for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit.”
Apparently Mary’s trust that God would take care of her needs and those of his Son was so complete, she didn’t say a word to Joseph about the miracle, about Who her child was or what he was going to mean to Israel and to the world. The note continues:
Her perfect surrender to God even leads her to the extreme of not defending her honor or innocence. She prefers to suffer suspicion and shame rather than reveal the work of grace in her. Faced with a fact which was inexplicable in human terms she abandons herself confidently to the love and providence of God.
But that’s not all there is to the woman National Geographic, in 2015, proclaimed “the most powerful woman in the world.”
For when the time was right, when the unborn John the Baptist leaps in Elizabeth’s womb (just as King David leapt before the Ark of the Covenant as it entered Jerusalem) and his mother, Elizabeth, proclaims her “the mother of my Lord,” Mary’s exuberant praise forms a canticle worthy of the most penetrating prophet:
My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior…He has shown strength with his arm, he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
Bach, Mozart, Liszt and Palestrina are among the composers who’ve set her words to music, words revealing this “silent” woman “was able to perceive, through the complex events, first of Israel, then of every individual and of the whole of humanity, that mercy of which ‘from generation to generation’ people become sharers according to the eternal design of the Most Holy Trinity” (John Paul II, Dives in misericordia, 9).
Whether in pondering silence or exuberant praise, Mary is only about one thing: the glory of God. The unity of her soul in complete devotion to her Creator makes her the model of speech and silence par excellence.
This post is part of a series (see A Lenten Invitation from a Babbling Brook: Focus on Speech and Silence). To receive new installments, you’re invited to Follow Sparrowfare by placing your email address in the sidebar box).
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