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  • Writer's pictureBranden Hunt

The mother of Jesus wasn't precious and virginal — she was a radical

Check out the following words:

My soul magnifies the Lord,

47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.

Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me,

and holy is his name.

50 His mercy is for those who fear him

from generation to generation.

51 He has shown strength with his arm;

he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,

and lifted up the lowly;

53 he has filled the hungry with good things,

and sent the rich away empty.

54 He has helped his servant Israel,

in remembrance of his mercy,

55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors,

to Abraham and to his descendants forever.

These words move people. They don't stand for the status quo. They're radical.

Would you believe these are the words of Mary, the Mother of Jesus?

It's true.

In the first chapter of Luke, Mary is visited by an angel and told she will bear Jesus. Afterward, she visits Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist, and we hear those words from Mary.

Mary was an unmarried pregnant teenager — she could be stoned for this.

Nevertheless, she spoke!

Mary spoke about a God who lifted up the lowly in a world where the Roman emperor claimed to be a God.

Nevertheless, she spoke!

Mary spoke about a God who feeds the hungry and humbles the rich in a world where those who have resources exploit the poor and hungry.

Nevertheless, she spoke!

Mary's taking a shot at those in power, who rule over the oppressed with an iron fist. She realizes that while these earthly rulers have flexed their muscles, there is a bigger and badder God who does not like when her people are suffering.

It’s fascinating that some American Christians get angry because Starbucks says “Happy Holidays.” Or some say the church shouldn’t be political around the holidays, but rather “focus on the birth of Jesus.”

In reality, the true attack on Christmas is much more insidious. When we downplay the radical nature of not only Mary’s unique predicament, but also her forceful words calling for social change (which, let’s be honest, would probably get her kicked out of a few Christian book clubs today), we gloss over the true meaning of Christmas.

It can be so easy to focus on her virginity and this idea of purity, that we don't see how radical her very existence is.

We like to view the mother of Jesus as precious, nice, soft-spoken, but the Mary we witness in this text is more akin to a social revolutionary.

Rev. Carolyn Sharp says, “I don't envision Mary as the radiant woman peacefully composing the Magnificat in Marie Ellenrieder's 1833 painting, but as a girl who defiantly sings to her God through her tears, fists clenched against an unknown future. Mary's courageous song of praise is a radical resource for those seeking to honor the holy amid the suffering and conflicts of real life.”

These words are so influential they were banned from being sung in India during British Rule. On the last day of British Rule, Gandhi requested that the song be sung as the British flags were being lowered.

These words from Mary have been a source of comfort for the lowly for many years. As we enter into this Advent and Christmas season, might we not forget how this peasant, an unwed teenager, spoke a word of hope for her people. Who had her son, Jesus, on the margins. Who changed the world from the margins. If she had not spoken up, who would have?

If we do not speak up, who will?

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