My soul doth magnify the Lord. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour. Because He hath regarded the humility of His handmaid: He that is mighty hath done great things to me.
Verse 47. In God my Saviour, as appears by the Greek text, though literally in Latin, in God my salvation. Wi.
Verse 48. The humility of his handmaid, i.e. the humble, low, and abject condition; as perhaps might be translated both in this and in v. 52. For the blessed Virgin does not here commend and praise her own virtue of humility; as divers interpreters observe. See S. Francis of Sales, in his introduction to a devout life, part 3, c. vi. Wi. — As death entered into the world by the pride of our first parents, so was it proper that the path to life should be opened by the humility of Mary. Ven. Bede. — Not Elizabeth only, but all nations of believers are to call her blessed. Theophy.
2158: The Author the Time of Composition and the Historical Truth of the Gospels According to Mark and According to Luke
Reply of the Biblical Commission, June 26, 1912
IV. Whether those most rare and very peculiar documents, in which the Canticle Magnificat is directed not to the Blessed Virgin but to Elizabeth, can and should in any way prevail against the harmonious testimony of almost all manuscripts, both of the original Greek text and of the versions, as well as against the interpretation which the context no less than the spirit of the Virgin herself, and the constant tradition of the Church clearly exacts?–Reply: In the negative.
46. And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord.
AMBROSE. As evil came into the world by a woman, so also is good introduced by women; and so it seems not without meaning, that both Elisabeth prophesies before John, and Mary before the birth of the Lord. But it follows, that as Mary was the greater person, so she uttered the fuller prophecy.
BASIL. (in Psalm 33) For the Virgin, with lofty thoughts and deep penetration, contemplates the boundless mystery, the further she advances, magnifying God; And Mary said, My soul doth magnify the Lord.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Athanasius.) As if she said, Marvellous things hath the Lord declared that He will accomplish in my body, but neither shall my soul be unfruitful before God. It becomes me to offer Him the fruit also of my will, for inasmuch as I am obedient to a mighty miracle, am I bound to glorify Him who performs His mighty works in me.
ORIGEN. Now if the Lord could neither receive increase or decrease, what is this that Mary speaks of, My soul doth magnify (magnificat) the Lord? But if I consider that the Lord our Saviour is the image of the invisible God, and that the soul is created according to His image, so as to be an image of an image, then I shall see plainly, that as after the manner of those who are accustomed to paint images, each one of us forming his soul after the image of Christ, makes it great or little, base or noble, after the likeness of the original; so when I have made my soul great in thought, word, and deed, the image of God is made great, and the Lord Himself, whose image it is, is magnified in my soul.
47. And my spirit hath rejoiced in God my Saviour.
BASIL. (ubi sup.) The first-fruit of the Spirit is peace and joy. Because then the holy Virgin had drunk in all the graces of the Spirit, she rightly adds, And my spirit hath leaped for joy. (exultavit.) She means the same thing, soul and spirit. But the frequent mention of leaping for joy in the Scriptures implies a certain bright and cheerful state of mind in those who are worthy. Hence the Virgin exults in the Lord with an unspeakable springing (and bounding) of the heart for joy, and in the breaking forth into utterance of a noble affection. It follows, in God my Saviour.
BEDE. Because the spirit of the Virgin rejoices in the eternal Godhead of the same Jesus. (i. e. the Saviour,) whose flesh is formed in the womb by a temporal conception.
AMBROSE. The soul of Mary therefore magnifies the Lord, and her spirit rejoiced in God, because with soul and spirit devoted to the Father and the Son, she worships with a pious affection the one God from whom are all things. But let every one have the spirit of Mary, so that he may rejoice in the Lord. If according to the flesh there is one mother of Christ, yet, according to faith, Christ is the fruit of all. For every soul receives the word of God if only he be unspotted and free from sin, and preserves it with unsullied purity.
THEOPHYLACT. But he magnifies God who worthily follows Christ, and now that he is called Christian, lessens not the glory of Christ by acting unworthily, but does great and heavenly things; and then the Spirit (that is, the anointing of the Spirit) shall rejoice, (i. e. make him to prosper,) and shall not be withdrawn, so to say, and put to death.
BASIL. (ubi sup.) But if at any time light shall have crept into his heart, and loving God and despising bodily things he shall have gained the perfect standing of the just, without any difficulty shall he obtain joy in the Lord.
ORIGEN. But the soul first magnifies the Lord, that it may afterwards rejoice in God; for unless we have first believed, we can not rejoice.
48. For he hath regarded the low estate of his handmaiden: for, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed.
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Isidore.) She gives the reason why it becomes her to magnify God and to rejoice in Him, saying, For he hath regarded the lowliness of his handmaiden; as if she said, “He Himself foresaw, therefore I did not look for Him.” I was content with things lowly, but now am I chosen unto counsels unspeakable, and raised up from the earth unto the stars.
AUGUSTINE. (Pseudo-Aug. Serm. de Assumpt 208.) O true lowliness, which hath borne God to men, hath given life to mortals, made new heavens and a pure earth, opened the gates of Paradise, and set free the souls of men. The lowliness of Mary was made the heavenly ladder, by which God descended upon earth. For what does regarded mean but “approved?” For many seem in my sight to be lowly, but their lowliness is not regarded by the Lord. For if they were truly lowly, their spirit would rejoice not in the world, but in God.
ORIGEN. But why was she lowly and cast down, who carried in her womb the Son of God? Consider that lowliness, which in the Scriptures is particularly praised as one of the virtues, is called by the philosophers “modestia.” And we also may paraphrase it, that state of mind in which a man instead of being puffed up, casts himself down.
BEDE. But she, whose humility is regarded, is rightly called blessed by all; as it follows, For, behold, from henceforth all shall call me blessed.
ATHANASIUS. For if as the Prophet says, Blessed are they who have seed in Sion, and kinsfolk in Jerusalem, (Isa. 31:9. apud LXX.) how great should be the celebration of the divine and ever holy Virgin Mary, who was made according to the flesh, the Mother of the Word?
GREEK EXPOSITOR. (Metaphrastes.) She does not call herself blessed from vain glory, for what room is there for pride in her who named herself the handmaid of the Lord? But, touched by the Holy Spirit, she foretold those things which were to come.
BEDE. For it was fitting, that as by the pride of our first parent death came into the world, so by the lowliness of Mary should be opened the entrance into life.
THEOPHYLACT. And therefore she says, all generations, not only Elisabeth, but also every nation that believed.