22 December
Lk 1:46-56

Mary said, "My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Saviour, for he has looked with favour on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. He 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. He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy, according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever." And Mary remained with her about three months and then returned to her home.

Bring down the powerful from their thrones, and lift up the lowly!  This is the war-cry of revolution.  Revolution doesn’t mean a change of fashion, it means a violent upheaval in society.  Or as Mao Tse-tung wrote in 1927, “A revolution is not the same as inviting people to dinner, or writing an essay, or painting a picture.... A revolution is an insurrection, an act of violence by which one class overthrows another.”  He should know: he was responsible for the deaths of seventy million people.

What have those two gentle women, Mary and Elizabeth, in common with Mao Tse-tung, one of the world’s most heartless dictators?  Revolution!  But surely not violence?  Yes, violence too; that’s the most obvious thing in both revolutions.  The difference is that Mao inflicted violence on hundreds of millions of people, while John the Baptist and Jesus endured violence.  And countless Christians have endured it through the centuries.  Strangely, this kind of revolution goes on forever, while the other burns itself out in a few generations, or even sooner.  The most radical revolutionary becomes a conservative on the day after the revolution  -  and more than a conservative, a dictator. 

Did you notice that I misquoted the Magnificat at the beginning?  It was a test! Mary did not say, “Bring down the powerful…” but “God has brought down the powerful….”  That is the greatest difference between the two revolutions.  The number one disciple, Peter, had chosen the way of violence, he was already using his sword, when Jesus said, “Put your sword back into its scabbard” (Jn 18:11).  The greatest revolution is love, not violence.   



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This page gives a very brief commentary by Donagh O’Shea on the gospel reading for each day of the month. 


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