Sunday, December 17, 2006

Advent 2006 - A Great Joy for All People

REVOLUTIONARY DOCUMENT. I used to gloss over the Magnificat ("Mary's Song," Luke 1:46-55) as a shallow poem on my way to more sustantial fare of the Christmas story. Then one day I read what E. Stanley Jones thought of it: "The Magnificat is the most revolutionary document in the world.” Since a rather theologically conservative fellow like Gandhi-era Methodist missionary to India like Jones described it that way, I took a second look. I've been fascinated with the Magnificat ever since. Maybe that was my baptism into an appreciation for libearation theology and commitment to urban ministry and service among the poor.

JOY FOR THE POOR AND OPPRESSED Gustavo Gutierrez, who's groundbreaking book A Theology of Liberation, sparked dialogue that continues two decades after its initial publication, writes poignantly of the impact and implications of the Magnificat. Joy is the focus: “Mary’s thanksgiving and joy are closely linked to the action of God who liberates the oppressed and humbles the powerful. ‘The hungry he has satisfied with good things, the rich sent empty away.’ The future of history belongs to the poor and exploited… In them, the Lord saves history.”
WILL YOU PARTICIPATE? Gutierrez writes: “Every prophetic proclamation of total liberation in the Bible is accompanied by an invitation to participate in God’s eschatological joy: ‘I will delight in Jerusalem and rejoice in my people’ (Isaiah 65:19). This joy ought to fill our entire existence, making us attentive both to the gift of liberation of people and history as well as to the detail of our life and the lives of others.”

ALREADY AND STILL AWAITED He says: “Joy is born of the gift already received yet still awaited and is expressed in the present despite the difficulties and tensions of the struggle for the construction of a just society."

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