Wednesday, December 22, 2010

The Virgin Mary Sings of God's Revolution

The Gospel reading appointed for the Eucharist today is Luke 1:46-56 - the Magnificat or Mary's Song of Praise. N. T. Wright calls it "the gospel before the gospel, a fierce bright shout of triumph thirty weeks before Bethlehem, thirty years before Calvary and Easter" (Luke for Everyone). I was especially struck by these verses:

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.

This is the stuff of revolution! In spite of the best intentions, so many human revolutions try to put all things right yet end up becoming yet another form of tyranny and oppression. But God's revolution inaugurated in Jesus enacts true, life-giving peace and justice. We await its consummation as we daily pray "Thy kingdom come, Thy will be done, on earth as it is in heaven."

The Magnificat's stress on God's revolution powerfully reminds us that the Gospel is not a merely "spiritual" affair. It's about whole persons. It's about politics and economics. And it's about God's desire to make all things new.

Precisely for that reason, God's revolution takes dead-aim at Satan and all the spiritual forces of wickedness that rebel against God, at the evil powers of this world which corrupt and destroy the creatures of God, and at the sinful desires that draw persons away from the love of God. Mary sings of God's long-awaited, triumphant victory over the forces of sin, evil, and death. And we who hear and sing this song with her join in the celebration.


Matt Gunter said...

I heard a story about a man who lioved to hear the Latin version magnificat sung in church. It was one of his favorites. Until he heard it translated into English. Then he said, "We can't have that Socialist stuff sung in church!"

Bryan Owen said...

Great story, Matt. The Magnificat is explosive stuff. It clearly and bluntly sends the message to all the oppressive powers-that-be: "Your days are numbered!" Thanks be to God!