Luke shares words attributed to a pregnant Mary: "He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty." Luke 1:53
How does that happen?
Has it happened?
Is it yet to occur?
How are we to receive, understand, interpret and apply this and the other radical liberation statements in Mary's Song (Magnificat)? I reject the notion that this is merely literary flourish, that it is not to be taken literally. Too much of Old Testament prophecy and the words and actions of Jesus echo it (or it echoes them).
And, while we're at it, how do we get from who Jesus was and what he did to what Jesus makes possible for us and calls us now to be and do?
"Chains shall he break, for the slave is our brother," we sing in the stirring Christmas anthem "O Holy Night," "and in his name all oppression shall oppression shall cease." Amen!
But, tell me, if Jesus has done this, or made this possible or started the process, what part do you and I have in it? Is it just hope-so someday? Is it an eventuality? Is it "stand back and wait for God to do something?" I don't think so and most serious Bible scholars don't think so. But the vast majority of the church has played a some-day, hand-wringing game for two millennia. Too often the church has invested more of its energies in church empire than in "Thy kingdom come," leaving people victimized by dominating people, institutions and systems to fend for themselves or hope for something better in the world to come.
If chains shall be broken, we shall have a hand in breaking them. If oppression shall cease, it begins with us to stop oppressing and pretending like we aren't implicated and complicit in oppression on a global scale. If the hungry are to be filled with good things, it should be through those of us who follow Jesus, who say we take him seriously, who will lay aside our over-the-top wealth and act now to fill the hungry with good things.
Today, there are more people enslaved in our world than ever before. Millions of people--many of them under age 14--labor in virtual slavery, are trafficked in the sex industry, or are used as pawns in paying off someone else's debts. Learn about 21st-century slavery and the new abolitionist movement at www.notforsalecampaign.org. Get involved.
Let's break some chains.