Advent Firesiders

Luke ii (2010)

All right, Mary might not have uttered the precise words of The Magnificat which so closely echo Hannah's song in 1 Samuel 2 but she would have said something very similar. You can't have such an unequivocal response to God as the Theotokos without instinctively sharing the mission of his Son. I mean, imagine Jesus preaching the Sermon on the Plain and his mother standing on the sidelines saying to her women friends: "I don't agree with that. They're only poor because they won't work. They need to pull themselves up by their own sandal thongs".  To be the mother of Jesus you had to be 'on message', so Luke was right to place that message right after Mary's commitment and her demonstration of the compassionate heart in going to stay with her elderly pregnant cousin instead of sorting out her own baby clothes.

I think of this every day when I say Mary's prayer in the evening Office. I wonder how we can go on saying such radical things in such a conservative Church. I wonder what goes through the mind of opponents of inheritance tax when they say the words: "He hath put down the mighty from their seat and hath exalted the humble and meek; he hath filled the hungry with good things and the rich he hath sent empty away".

Of course there's no room for any of us to feel superior; one of the most severe dilemmas for Christians is the extent to which we should acquire wealth and income and own vast amounts of 'stuff' that we don't really need. I feel guilty every time I think of my vast CD collection; but I have no intention of giving it away nor even of curtailing my collecting habit, any reduction in which will be the result of falling income not rising virtue. And it is this self knowledge which holds me back from being as critical as I would like to be in respect of the rich and their good things.

Still, just as Mary aligned her mission with that of her son, we should try harder to do the same thing.