On March 25, 1987, John Paul II reflected on the link between Mary’s fiat, her Magnificat and the contemporary call to live the preferential option for the poor. All members of the pilgrim church are called to renew their commitment to the poor, to ask themselves repeatedly how their actions impact the poor.
The Church’s journey…involves a renewed commitment to her mission. Following him who said of himself: “(God) has anointed me to preach good news to the poor” (cf. Lk. 4:18), the Church has sought from generation to generation and still seeks today to accomplish that same mission.
The Church’s love of preference for the poor is wonderfully inscribed in Mary’s Magnificat. The God of the Covenant, celebrated in the exultation of her spirit by the Virgin of Nazareth, is also he who “has cast down the mighty from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly, …filled the hungry with good things, sent the rich away empty, …scattered the proud-hearted…and his mercy is from age to age on those who fear him.” Mary is deeply imbued with the spirit of the “poor of Yahweh,” who in the prayer of the Psalms awaited from God their salvation, placing all their trust in him (cf. Pss. 25; 31; 35; 55). Mary truly proclaims the coming of the “Messiah of the poor” (cf. Is. 11:4; 61:1). Drawing from Mary’s heart, from the depth of her faith expressed in the words of the Magnificat, the Church renews ever more effectively in herself the awareness that the truth about God who saves, the truth about God who is the source of every gift, cannot be separated from the manifestation of his love of preference for the poor and humble, that love which, celebrated in the Magnificat, is later expressed in the words and works of Jesus.
The Church is thus aware-and at the present time this awareness is particularly vivid-not only that these two elements of the message contained in the Magnificat cannot be separated, but also that there is a duty to safeguard carefully the importance of “the poor” and of “the option in favor of the poor” in the word of the living God. These are matters and questions intimately connected with the Christian meaning of freedom and liberation.
See: John Paul II, Redemptoris Mater (1987). The extended passage above can be found in paragraph 37.
Submitted by: N. Rademacher, Ph.D., Associate Professor, Religious Studies