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Birthing Justice

Birthing Justice

by Sarah Brock

 

Readings for the Feast Day of Jonathan Myrick Daniels:

Psalm 85:7-13
Proverbs 4:20-27; Galatians 3:22-28;

Luke 1:46-55

 

“My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

“For he that is mighty hath magnified me.”

 

This is the translation of the Magnificat found in Rite 1 of the Book of Common Prayer. The words that so deeply affected Jonathan Myrick Daniels as he prayed Evening Prayer one fateful March evening in Boston.

 

“My soul doth magnify the Lord.”

“For he that is mighty hath magnified me.”

 

But, what does this even mean?! How can Mary, or any human for that matter, possibly magnify a God who is infinite and transcendent? In fact, isn’t Mary responded to accepting the role of making God smaller, more tangible, and limited in the incarnation?

Most days, as I observe the world around me I find myself wondering, ‘where is God?’ I know well the experience of witnessing the death, destruction, and tragedy in the world and thinking that justice is far away and that moral arc (the one that bends toward justice) we so often hear about must be infinitely long. Reading the news begs the question, ‘where do we go from here?’

This response is consistent in a very important aspect. It is entirely focused on searching for justice in the world. Mary’s song does exactly the opposite. Instead of seeking justice in the world around her, Mary proclaims this beautiful song of God’s justice within her. It is in seeking justice within that her soul “doth magnify the Lord.’

She goes on to illustrate God’s justice in all of time.

 

“His mercy is on them that fear him throughout all generations.
He hath showed strength with his arm;
he hath scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts.
He hath put down the mighty from their seat, and
hath exalted the humble and meek.
He hath filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he hath sent empty away.”

 

Mary is beginning to understand that God’s promises for the future are coming to pass within her own body. She isn’t just preparing to birth God incarnate. She’s preparing to birth God’s justice into the world. She’s preparing to magnify the Lord. And, Mary calls us to do the same.

Mary calls us to look for justice, first within ourselves. I don’t know about you, but to me that sounds incredibly daunting and uncomfortable and a little scary. Mostly because I’m pretty sure I won’t like what I find there. But, we don’t have to go there alone! Mary finds God’s justice within herself in community. She sings the Magnificat to her sister-in-law Elizabeth. And, even unborn John the Baptist makes his presence known by leaping in Elizabeth’s womb.

Jonathan Myrick Daniels heard Mary’s call in 1965 and it dramatically changed the course of his life. Taking him to Selma, where a weekend trip turned into making his life’s work racial integration and equality. Do you hear Mary’s call to you? Where will looking for justice within your own self take you?

Mary’s is a song of revolution, literally turning the priorities of the world upside down. this is the justice she birthed into the world all those years ago. This is the justice we can bear into this world if we only pay attention to what is already growing within us.

In the words of the wise, 13th century German mystic, Meister Eckart, “ We are called to be mothers of God — for God is always waiting to be born.”

May we all locate God’s justice within ourselves and birth it into the world. May all our souls magnify the Lord.

 

 

 

 


Sarah Brock is a Postulant for Holy Orders in the Diocese of Massachusetts and lives in Boston.

 

Image Credit: Wikimedia

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Anne Benedict

You might just as well say “if there is a God, why is there history and why do we experience time? If there is some endpoint that God desires, why doesn’t (didn’t) God just instantly bring the universe to that point at the beginning of time?”

The only answer to that can be that we are physical (as well as spiritual) beings, and physical beings can only exist in the nexus of time; therefore, as our physical bodies have a history, the physical universe, and the perfection of its justice, must also exist historically. And that means over time.

Fred Garvin

Why would it take so many centuries for god to do this?
What was he/she/it doing all those years before?
This makes no sense-even for religion.

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