Day Five: Mary's Song

An ancient icon of Mary, source unknown

Mary lived in an occupied territory.  Her homeland was under the iron fist of Rome, and the imperial forces kept her countrymen in poverty through excessive taxes and oppressive laws.  In addition Mary’s own culture told her that she was hardly even a person.  All of the laws and customs dealing with marriage dealt with the wife as property, and to most Israelites the noblest thing that a woman could accomplish was to provide a son to her husband.  So Mary knew what it was to be humbled: to be weak and oppressed and pushed down. 


But she also knew that God would lift her up!  Somehow, the recent events had given her a glimpse of God’s kingdom, of his priorities.  They had shown her that God cares for the lowly.  God could have chosen a rich and powerful queen to bear his child—but he chose Mary—and she sees in that act God’s concern for all of those who are in her lowly position.  And that is a radical idea.  This scripture, known as Mary’s Song, has been banned by dictators, and pastors have been imprisoned for teaching it.  Tyrants recognize that the idea that God sides with the oppressed threatens their regime and any hope of continued power.


So, we who are seeking to live out God’s upside-down kingdom must first expect God's deliverance and help!  We must not allow our own poverty, powerlessness, or humble circumstances to make us think that God has forgotten us.  He hasn’t.  We must not let them convince us that we are unimportant.  We aren’t.  Next, we must act on behalf of the poor, oppressed, and marginalized of this world because God loves them!

Lord, shake away my indifference and insensitivity to the plight of the poor.  When I meet you hungry, thirsty or as a stranger, show me how I can give you food or quench your thirst or receive you in my home—and in my heart.  Show me how I can serve you in the least of your brothers.

—Mother Teresa *


Here I am, Lord—body, heart and soul.
Grant that with your love,
I may be big enough to reach the world,
And small enough to be at one with you.

—Mother Teresa *