Magnifying the Lord
In today's second reading from the letter to the Philippians, St. Paul tells us, “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”
The verb “will be magnified” comes from the Greek verb megalunō, which means “to make great,” “to enlarge,” or, figuratively, “to praise.” The verb appears eight times in the New Testament, four of which refer to magnifying God or Christ:
Luke 1:46 - “And Mary said: 'My soul proclaim the greatness of [magnifies] the Lord.'”
Acts 10:46 - “for they could hear them [the apostles] speaking in tongues and glorifying [magnifying] God.”
Acts 19:17 - “When this became known to all the Jews and Greeks who lived in Ephesus, fear fell upon them all, and the name of the Lord Jesus was held in great esteem [magnified].
Philippians 1:20 - “Christ will be magnified in my body, whether by life or by death.”
So what does it mean to magnify God?
Some translations, like those in numbers 1 through 3 above, suggest that to magnify God means simply to praise and glorify Him or to hold Him in esteem. While this definition is certainly true, it does not capture the entire range of meaning suggested by the Greek verb megalunō.
Think for a minute about a magnifying glass. It has two primary characteristics. It is transparent, and it makes objects appear larger.
To truly magnify God, then, we must become transparent, and we must make Him appear larger to those who see Him through us. We must let go of ourselves, get out of the way, and allow God to work in us and through us so that the people around us will recognize Him in our words and actions. When this happens, God will seem closer and greater in our neighbors' eyes.
We will be magnifying God.
Questions for reflection:
1. How do you magnify God in your life?
2. Are you transparent enough to get out of the way and allow God to work in you and shine through you? Why or why not?
3. What is especially challenging about becoming transparent?
4. What changes might you make in your life to become more transparent?
5. Do your words and actions make God appear larger to those around you? Why or why not?