Jesus Creed

Jesus Creed

Christmas Words 18: Poor

A Magnificat kind of Christmas, which understands Christmas as about God’s acts to redeem through the incarnation, is also about the poor. Here are the words of the Magnificat, and I’d like you to observe words connected to poverty and the ending of the injustice of poverty: 

46And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
From now on all generations will call me blessed,
49for the Mighty One has done great things for me–
holy is his name.
50His mercy extends to those who fear him,
from generation to generation.
51He has performed mighty deeds with his arm;
he has scattered those who are proud in t
heir inmost thoughts.
52He has brought down rulers from their thrones
but has lifted up the humble.

53He has filled the hungry with good things
but has sent the rich away empty.

54He has helped his servant Israel,
remembering to be merciful
55to Abraham and his descendants forever,
even as he said to our fathers.”


I suspect that Mary understood the conception of the Messiah in her womb as the first act of God to establish justice through her son — he would scatter the proud and bring down rulers and send the rich away empty and he would also lift the humble and fill the hungry with good things.

And it seems obvious to me that Mary thinks this kind of thing — the disestablishment of unjust powers and the establishment of just powers — is how God is being faithful to the Abrahamic promises. I’m not sure Genesis 12 etc connects the covenant promises with justice, but by the time of Mary God’s faithfulness to that covenant — God being their God and they being God’s people — meant protection from unjust rulers.


This was especially true for the poor. Above all, they experienced the rough side of Herod’s (and Caesar’s) tongue and and the sharp side of their swords.

Mary’s friends undoubtedly lifted a toast when Mary sang this song. “It’s about time!,” they all said when their jugs hit the table.

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Charles Burge

posted December 23, 2009 at 1:39 pm

Well said.
Here’s a thought: The covenant promises – in seed form to Abram – find further elaboration in the prophets and NT, in that God’s people are to execute justice and mercy on His behalf.
To wit: the fast commanded by Isaiah (Is 58:6-10), and the prayer of disciples that the kingdom come ‘on earth as it is in heaven.’
May the Lord be pleased to illustrate this truth to more of His people this holiday season.
2 Cor 8:9

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posted August 31, 2010 at 3:01 am


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