Monday, 28 December 2009

Magnificat

The Magnificat is a great little poem, full of humility and hope. You can read the full text of it all over the web, but if you like using your bible, try Luke 1:46-55. Following on from my previous post about the inversion of lowly and wealth, the Magnificat also has hard words for the rich.

He has shown strength with his arm

and has scattered the proud in their conceit,

Casting down the mighty from their thrones

and lifting up the lowly.

He has filled the hungry with good things

and sent the rich away empty.

It's clear from this, and from other parts of Luke's text, that Jesus may well have inspired Robin Hood to rob from the rich and give to the poor. Mary's song doesn't pull any punches here, showing that the proud, mighty or rich will be brought low suddenly and powerfully, for the sake of the lowly and hungry. Jesus' arrival in the world isn't all fun and games. It's a redistribution of the wealth so that the hungry are fed by the rich, and to do this the rich must give up their conceit, their thrones and their wealth.

When I read things like this, I find it hard to reconcile the contemporary practice of giving useless or frivolous gifts to each other with the arrival of Christ in the world. To celebrate Christmas as a Christian would surely mean giving gifts to the hungry and lifting up the lowly, and not giving half-arsed gifts to other family members who are already overflowing with trinkets.

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