Mary’s prophecy, Jesus’ first sermon

What’s the connection?

 

Mary responded to Elizabeth’s confirmation of the angel’s words about the identity of the child she was carrying.  She spoke strong words about God’s work in the future:

He has demonstrated power with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance of their hearts.

The angels declared:

“Glory to God in the highest,
and on earth peace among people
with whom he is pleased!”

After seeing him, the shepherds told everyone what had happened and what the angel had said to them about this child. All who heard the shepherds’ story were astonished, but Mary kept all these things in her heart and thought about them often. 

 

The message from the angels of peace was one to be remembered and passed on to her son.  In her song are words about raising up the humble.  Didn’t the shepherds coming as Jesus’ first visitors reflect Mary’s song of praise?  The visit of humble shepherds and their response to Jesus have been remembered throughout history.  Mary’s place in history is a prime example of the humble being raised.  Jesus should be added.  A carpenter’s son in an area remote from the centers of political and economic power who become the most important name for many.

What of these words and birth events do we see in Jesus’ first sermon and subsequent work?

 

Compare Mary’s song and Jesus’ first sermon:

He has demonstrated power with his arm; he has scattered those whose pride wells up from the sheer arrogance of their hearts.
52 He has brought down the mighty from their thrones, and has lifted up those of lowly position;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and has sent the rich away empty (Luke 1:51-53)

 From Jesus first sermon

 “The Spirit of the Lord is upon me,
because he has anointed me to proclaim good news to the poor
He has sent me to proclaim release to the captives
and the regaining of sight to the blind,
to set free those who are oppressed
19 to proclaim the year of the Lord’s favor.”
 (Luke 4:18-19)

 

 The Connection?

What in his sermon shows that Mary had taught Jesus her understanding of how God worked in the world? I do not believe I have given Mary enough credit for her influence on Jesus and his teachings.

To what extent does Jesus omit Mary’s theme of bringing down the mighty?  Can one only release the captives by eliminating the “mighty”? Should we conclude that this is a call to revolution?  Followers of Jesus in the spirit of Mary should, perhaps, seek by force to eliminate the Roman oppressors and their Hebrew collaborators. Taxes imposed by Romans and collected frequently by Hebrews, plus the temple tax often led to the peasant farmer losing his property due to the inability to pay the taxes.  But Jesus’s way was different. The oppressed, of course, are freed only by dealing with the oppressor.  Mary sees the hungry filled with good things and Jesus speaks of good news to the poor. This good news is possible when “the mighty” (Mary’s words) are not like the “rich fool” (Luke 12:13-21), Dives (who neglected Lazarus, Luke 16:19-31) or the rich young ruler (Luke 18:18-30).  The poor will be feed when people understand Jesus’ parables of the rich farmer (and what he should be doing with his bountiful harvest). In understanding the Lazarus parable, they will see themselves as the “brothers” (Luke 16:28) who should pay attention to the “law and the prophets” and care for Lazarus’ kin.   The wealthy will see the contrast between the rich young man and Zacchaeus (Luke 19:1-10).

Heeding Jesus’ word there will be more people now like Zacchaeus.  Zacchaeus’ example of giving half his wealth to the poor will be the model for those who, living in the spirit of Mary’s prophecy, want to be true sons of Abraham.

 

Quotations from The New English Translation

Also posted on Rawley Pike Peace and Justice Notes

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