“My soul magnifies the Lord, 47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 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. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.” (Luke 1: 47-55)
We love this passage. It is Mary’s Song, the poetic rendering of her realization that she has truly been blessed, that she has been called to do what no one else has done, what no one else will do. She has been called to give birth to God in this world, to deliver the promise that her people have always known. But don’t get too lost in the poetry and the familiarity. E. Stanley Jones called The Magnificat “the most revolutionary document in the world”. It is said that The Magnificat terrified the Russian Czars so much that they tried to dispel its reading. It is an out and out call to revolution. Less subversive language has started wars. Edward F. Marquart depicts it as God’s “magna carta”. It is the beginning of a new society, the preamble to a Constitution that most of us are not ready to embrace. We’d rather chalk it up to the poetry of an innocent young woman and keep shopping.
See, this is God’s vision for the world. It is not a world where the best and the brightest and the richest come out on top. It is not a world that we can control. It is not a world where we can earn what we have and deserve who we are. It is rather a world where God’s presence and God’s blessings are poured onto all. But it comes with a price. Those who have, those who are, those whose lives are filled with plenty are called to change, to open their lives to God and to others. Because God will scatter the proud, those who think they have it figured out, those who are so sure of their rightness and their righteousness. In other words, those of us who think that we have it all nailed down will be shaken to our core. The powerful–those with money, those with status, those with some false sense of who they are above others–will be brought down from their high places. The poor and the disenfranchised, those who we think are not good enough or righteous enough, will be raised up. They will become the leaders, the powerful, the ones that we follow. The hungry will feel pangs no more and those who have everything–the hoarders, the affluent, those are the ones whose coffers will be emptied to feed and house the world. God is about to turn the world upside-down. Look around you. This is not it; this is not what God had in mind. And God started it all not by choosing a religious leader or a political dynamo or even a charismatic young preacher but a girl, a poor underage girl from a third-world country with dark skin and dark eyes whose family was apparently so questionable that they are not mentioned and whose marital status seemed to teeter on the edge of acceptable society. God picked the lowliest of the lowly to turn the world upside down.
And when you’re turned upside down, things tend to spill. No longer can we hold onto what we know. No longer can we rest on the laurels of our past. If we’re going to be part of God’s vision of the world, we have to give up those things that are not part of it. We have to change, learn to live a new way, look upon the world and others not as competition, not as threats, but as the very vision of God pouring into the world. So, THIS Advent, what are you willing to let go of so that you will have room to offer a place for God? What are you willing to change in your life to come just a little bit closer to what God envisions? How willing are you to turn your world upside down? What do you plan to do with this precious life you’ve been given?
There are those who will read this and dismiss it as some utopian socialist notion, something that flies in the face of our capitalistic society. I don’t think it’s either. God’s vision does not align with any form of government on this earth but is instead ordered with love and grace and abundant mercy. It is not a vision where everyone is treated the same; it is a vision where everyone is loved. So, again, what are you willing to change in your own life? What are you willing to trade for love? Christmas is six days away. Six days…that’s all that’s needed to create a new order.
Into this world, this demented inn, in which there is absolutely no room for him at all, Christ has come uninvited. But because he cannot be at home in it, because he is out of place in it, and yet he must be in it, his place is with those others who do not belong, who are rejected by power, because they are regarded as weak, those who are discredited, who are denied the status of persons, tortured, exterminated. With those for whom there is no room, Christ is present in this world. (Thomas Merton)
Grace and Peace,