For Mary, Christmas end the beginning of the end for systemic violence (1:51-55).
A student told me the other day that Christians don’t believe James 1:26-27 (pure religion is taking care of widows and orphans). In my mind, I went to Mary who was the mother of James and she was a widow, and his older brother, Jesus, was big on caring for widows. James must have thought of her when he wrote those words.
Mary believed what both of her boys would teach and preach: Christmas means the beginning of the end for systemic violence. I sometimes use The Liturgy of the Hours for private prayers, and every evening has this canticle of Mary, the Magnificat, as a prayer. I can’t get over it. For Mary, Christmas meant liberation from oppression and, what some forget about, the establishment of justice, God’s will on earth.
God has performed mighty deeds with his arm (power).
God has scattered the proud.
God has ripped unjust rulers from their thrones.
God has put the humble into a position of justice.
God has filled the hungry with food.
God has sent the rich away empty – the oppressors of the poor, no doubt.
And all of this, according to Mary, is consistent with the covenant God made with Abraham – though not a word about liberation is really found in Gen 12, Gen 15, Gen 17, or Gen 22. Or at least, that is not the central concern there.
God’s covenant is a covenant that establishes justice.
Christmas is more than presents; Christmas is a day when we, we Chistians, pray with Mary and celebrate that in Jesus, and in the community of faith around him, the long-awaited justice will be established.
It is, again, the beginning of the end of systemic violence and injustice.