Reflecting on the Visitation during his Angelus address on Monday, Pope Francis reflected on the raising up to heaven of the humble handmaid of the Lord, and how that attitude is to be repeated in our lives.
In the Magnificat Mary intends “to tell us … that God, through her, has inaugurated a historical turning point, he has definitively established a new order of things. She, small and humble, has been raised up and – we celebrate this today – brought to the glory of Heaven, while the powerful of the world are destined to remain empty-handed,” the pope said Aug. 15 in Saint Peter’s Square for the feast of the Assumption.
“Let us look at ourselves, and let us ask ourselves: will this prophetic reversal announced by Mary affect my life? Do I believe that to love is to reign, and to serve is power?”
Pope Francis continued: “Do I believe that the purpose of my life is Heaven, it is paradise? To spend it well here. Or am I concerned only with worldly, material things? Again, as I observe world events, do I let myself be entrapped by pessimism or, like the Virgin, am I able to discern the work of God who, through gentleness and smallness, achieves great things?”
The Magnificat, he said, is the “canticle of hope.” He reflected on the description of the Lord who “has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly.”
“As we listen to these words, we might ask ourselves: is the Virgin not exaggerating a little, perhaps, describing a world that does not exist? Indeed, what she says does not seem to correspond to reality; while she speaks, the powerful of the time have not been brought down: the fearsome Herod, for example, is still firmly on his throne. And the poor and hungry remain so, while the rich continue to prosper.”
But the meaning of the Blessed Virgin’s canticle is not a historical description, but a prophecy, the pope said.
In the parable of the rich man and Lazarus, Dives ends up “empty-handed” after his death, he reflected.
“Our Lady … announces a radical change, an overturning of values. While she speaks with Elizabeth, carrying Jesus in her womb, she anticipates what her Son will say, when he will proclaim blessed the poor and humble, and warn the rich and those who base themselves on their own self-sufficiency.”
“The Virgin, then, prophesies with this canticle, with this prayer: she prophesies that it will not be power, success and money that will prevail, but rather service, humility and love will prevail. And as we look at her, in glory, we understand that the true power is service – let us not forget this: the true power is service – and to reign means to love. And that this is the road to Heaven.”
In the Magnificat, Mary “sings of hope and rekindles hope in us. Mary today sings of hope and rekindles hope in us: in her, we see the destination of our journey,” Pope Francis said.
“She is the first creature who, with her whole self, body and soul, victoriously crosses the finish line of Heaven. She shows us that Heaven is within reach.”
He affirmed that heaven is attainable “if we too do not give in to sin, if we praise God in humility and serve others generously. Do not give in to sin.”
God is close to us, with compassion and tenderness, he added.
“Our Mother takes us by the hand, she accompanies us to glory, she invites us to rejoice as we think of heaven,” he concluded. “Let us bless Mary with our prayer, and let us ask her to be capable of glimpsing Heaven on earth.”