It is time once again to consider our icon of the Supplication (Deisis), depicting Christ Almighty flanked by John the Baptist, the final prophet of the Old Testament, and the Virgin Mary, the first Christian of the New. Both have their hands uplifted in prayer. John is interceding for the people he has made ready through the baptism of repentance in the Jordan
The voice of one crying in the wilderness: ‘Prepare the way of the Lord; Make His paths straight.’ (Luke 3:4)
As for Mary, she is fulfilling another role, beyond being the one all generations will call blessed (Luke 1:48), the the first to hear the word of God and keep it (Luke 11:28). This third office is to declare that the birth of her son, Jesus, would bring deliverance to a group known as the anawim (Hebrew for ‘poor ones’) who formed a remnant of Israel remaining faithful to God through times of oppression, poverty and social distain. This redemption is part of a great reversal that will happen in human affairs by which lowly are lifted up and the lofty are brought low. Mary proclaims
He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.
The ‘lowly’ of Mary’s Magnificant are those who can not trust in their own strength but must put their trust and confidence in God. This means not only the poor, the sick and the downtrodden, but, in wealthy ‘first-world’ countries such as ours, the anxious, the lonely and the ones burdened by a sense of inadequacy and failure. They shall be lifted up, while those who are self-righteous in their human achievements and status will be sent away empty – not so much physically hungry but plagued with a void that no human striving can fill, because wealth and power have no standing before God.
This then is Mary’s third role, to be the spokeswoman for the anawim, with her arms and voice and heart lifted up to Christ Our Savior. The Advent of Christ is the first fruits of the final harvest of righteousness, peace and joy though the Holy Spirit. The Magnificant breathes this spirit, found so often in the hymns and psalms of Israel and the Church
The mercy of the Lord is from everlasting to everlasting
On those who fear Him (Psalm 103:17)