All Saints Episcopal Church
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We've heard Mary's "Magnificat" so often that I think we may have forgotten how subversive revolutionary and dangerous it is. Her song of praise ("Magnificat" is the first word of the lines in Latin: "My soul magnifies the Lord...") is stunning in its implications.Consider for a moment these lines:

"God has shown the strength of his arm, and has scattered the proud in their conceit. He has cast down the mighty from their thrones and has lifted up the lowly. He has filled the hungry with good things and the rich he has sent away empty."

Got that? The proud, or in another translation of the Greek, the "arrogant in their attitudes of themselves" are scattered, as if they were enemies on the run. Those who feel superior to everyone, those who dominate, those who oppress, are in for a big surprise.


More, says Mary: the mighty are "cast down," or "pulled down" from their thrones, an almost physical tearing away of power by God. And those who are humble are exalted.

And then the most shocking turnabout of all: the hungry, the poor, the beggars, the marginalized, are filled. And not just filled--but filled with "good things" (Greek: agathon) while the rich ones God sends away empty (kenous).


Social justice? Preferential option for the poor? Income redistribution? Yes, yes and yes. And much more than that. An utter reversal of social expectations, a dramatic reordering of society, an ushering in of a new world view, which comes about with what Luke calls the "rise and fall of many" in his Gospel. This is God's vision, and for those who are tempted to think that the current status quo--where the wealthy oppress the poor, where so many go hungry, and where millions are homeless--is what God desires, think again. If you doubt this vision of the reign of God, don't listen to me: Listen to Mary.


We tend to think of Mary as a docile woman. And indeed she was docile to God, but had the courage to ask a question of the AngelGabriel and to assent to God's request without needing to ask any men in her life--her father or her betrothed. This is an independent and strong woman who speaks of God's complete reversal of what we have come to think of as "normal." And if you think Mary's vision for the world is subversive, wait till you meet her son. It is stunning if we take a minute to think about it.


And then the most shocking turnabout of all; the hungry, the beggars, the marginalized are filled.

And not just filled—but filled with "good things, while the rich God sends away empty.  Social justice?

Preferential option for the poor? Income redistribution? Yes, yes and yes.


Hugh+ with thanks to the Rev’d James Martin, SJ

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      Fort Lauderdale, FL 33301
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                           (except holidays)

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