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Read Luke 1:39–56

We Americans are living in a curious historical moment. Every day we see more evidence of the ascendancy of a Bizarro version of Robin Hood—stealing from the poor and giving to the rich. In such circumstances, it would behoove us to take to heart Mary’s words in the Magnificat:

[God] has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;
he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty (Luke 1:52–53).

In a time when many of our political leaders blame the poor for their poverty, cast suspicion and vitriol on undocumented immigrants, and conspire to take away all forms of assistance from the most vulnerable among us, we would do well to remember what Moses said to the Israelites:

The Lord your God is God of gods and Lord of lords, the great God, mighty and awesome, who is not partial and takes no bribe, who executes justice for the orphan and the widow, and who loves the strangers, providing them food and clothing. You shall also love the stranger, for you were strangers in the land of Egypt (Deut 10:17–19).

In a time when we are assured that benefits given to corporations and the wealthy will “trickle down” to the rest of us in the form of better jobs and a higher standard of living, we might want to check out the hundreds of references in both Testaments of the Bible that implore, cajole, command us to provide for the needy simply and directly. In a world that encourages selfishness and greed, that seeks to isolate us from one another by fostering a fear of differences, let us choose instead the way of Jesus.

Those who follow that way seek to build bridges, not walls. They welcome the stranger. They operate on a principle of equality and mutual respect. They choose love because they believe in their hearts that “perfect love casts out fear” (1 John 4:18). They provide a challenge to the status quo by living in freedom, joy, and generosity rather than suspicion and miserliness. They understand that being chosen by God may cause them discomfort or suffering, but that it is still the greatest blessing anyone could ever receive. They rejoice in God’s goodness, trusting that God will keep the promises God has made to scatter the proud in the thoughts of their hearts, lift up the needy from the ash heap and seat them with princes, and guard the feet of God’s faithful ones. Those who follow the way of Jesus find themselves in the society of the downtrodden——the shepherds, the weary father, the frightened mother giving birth in a cattle stall, the barren woman, the widow and orphan, the single parent, the refugee, the addict, the undocumented, the dreamer——and they thank God for the privilege of being in such blessed company.

As we prepare to welcome the Christ child into the world and into our hearts, let us sing our own version of Mary’s song of resistance and hope. Let us join hands with our brothers and sisters of every nation, race, creed, income bracket, and party affiliation. Let us pray for God’s merciful reversals in this world of injustice. Let us hope and work for the coming of the commonwealth of God and the doing of God’s will on earth as it is in heaven. Let us choose the way of Jesus.

Grace and peace,