Posted on August 14th, 2013
In the hour of trouble, we want attention. There is an enormous feeling of comfort when you are broken down on the road and the tow truck comes pulling up. Everything is going to be taken care of. In the hospital as your family member seems on the edge of death, when the doctor comes in and pays attention to the sick patient, we are relived.
But so often in this life there seems little attention paid to our troubles. Not just by other people, but by God Himself. No one expressed this with greater sorrow than our Lord Jesus Himself, shouting the 22nd Psalm as He died: “My God, My God, why hast Thou forsaken Me?” No one looks, no one cares, no one helps, not even God Himself. Haven’t you felt that way? I have.
Mary’s song tells us this important truth: It’s not just that God will look, will help, but that He already has looked. “He has regarded [looked upon] the lowly state of His maidservant.” He pays attention – to the sinner, the downtrodden, the dying.
That term “lowly state” often throws me. I want to think Mary is boasting about her humility, which itself is a contradiction. But when Mary says that she is in a “lowly state,” she acknowledges that she is nobody important, nobody special – but perhaps “nobody” is the best way to think of it. Mary is saying, “Isn’t it astonishing that the Most High God has chosen such an insignificant woman to be the mother of the Messiah?”
Yet this is who God is. He doesn’t esteem people based upon their worldly status or their works. He pays attention to the nobodies.
There is something else about this term “lowly state” that is immensely comforting. One aspect of it is an “inability to cope.” Have you had a time when you’ve felt that way? That you cannot cope, cannot handle the stress of the situation? You’ve broken down, can go no farther, want to quit? Perhaps you’ve even contemplated suicide, or just wished that you were dead, that everything were done and over.
The world—and many in the church—regard that as weak, even spiritually weak. But to the one who cannot cope, God does not say, “Try harder! I help those who help themselves.” No, He says through the very choosing of the blessed Virgin Mary, “You who cannot cope, who cannot rescue yourselves, I have come to cope with all your troubles, pay all your debts, atone for all your sins. Come to Me, all who are weary and burdened; I will give you rest.”
When the blessed virgin says that the Lord has regarded the lowly state of His maidservant, she announces that God accomplishes our salvation before we even knew we needed it. Before we were in trouble, He visited, helped, rescued, saved. He has looked upon our inability to cope, He has looked upon our insignificance, our lack of distinction, and has already helped.
Mary says all this at a time when the help seems insignificant. The Help is a tiny fetus still in her womb. Her Child is a little human being that our society would condemn to death, a life unworthy of life. But there, in that tiny little human, invisible to the world, is the enfleshed God. He has looked upon our inability to cope, and taken it all upon Himself.
And for all this, looking at the Son of this blessed virgin, we say with her, “My spirit has rejoiced in God my Savior.” There’s much about life to get us down. The joy of the Church in the liturgy and between the liturgies is a joy deeper than tears, a gladness that God has already planned and accomplished the rescue, the salvation, the resurrection. So we can say, “Yes, death, I see you and feel your sting, but I am no longer sad, for Jesus my Savior has trampled you down.” And we can say, “Yes, sin, I feel you choking my neck, and see how much power you have over me, but I rejoice all the more, for Jesus my Savior has died, and His blood cleanses me from all sin. So with Mary and all the Church I will say, ‘He has paid attention to me, a nobody. In the conception of Jesus, God has done just as He spoke to our fathers, and I am glad beyond measure.’”