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Magnificat- A Song of Kingdom Revolution

In the Gospel of Mark, Jesus initiates his public ministry with the proclamation


, "The time is fulfilled, the Kingdom of God is at hand. Repent and believe in the Gospel." (Mark 1:14).


Jesus announces the arrival of a decisive "kairos (time)," a pivotal moment of decision. What was long anticipated has now erupted into the present reality.


The rule and reign of the Father is no longer a distant hope but an imminent reality. The underlying Greek term behind the English phrase 'at hand,' "ēngiken," a dynamic verb, conveys the idea of drawing near, breaking into the present moment.


Just as the first rays of a sunrise anticipate the full dawning of the day, so is kingdom light breaking into a world of deep darkness,


With the emergence of this new era, those who hear this good news are summoned to both "repent" and "believe." This ‘belief’ goes beyond intellectual assent; it requires embracing the newfound reality through active commitment, a radical life reorientation, and devoted allegiance to its implications.


As a result of its imminence and presence, one must undergo a radical reorientation of life and believe. But what exactly is this new era announced by Jesus? There are various ways to approach this. In fact, Jesus' entire ministry—his healing, exorcisms, table fellowship, teaching, death, and resurrection—all point to the kingdom and provide hints of its reality. However, without getting ahead of ourselves, let's briefly explore Mary's song found in the birth narrative of the Gospel of Luke.


This song, this canticle, is placed on the lips of Mary, the mother of Jesus. Her joy-filled revolutionary song, rooted in ancient scriptures, speaks of God helping his servant Israel and fulfilling the promise made to Abraham. In other words, Mary's song is rooted in the story and traditions of Abraham.


"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 [seed] forever" (Luke 1:51–55).


The story of Abraham, the covenant story, is full of twists and turns—hope of land and descendants, slavery in Egypt, wilderness wanderings, conquest, Kingship in the promised land, temple building, destruction, exile, judgment , and now the descendants of Abraham are living as a colonised and oppressed people group. The story of Israel, seemingly overshadowed by the story of Empire, seeks an ending.


Mary's song, a poem of defiance and resistance, prophetically heralds a new chapter—a chapter in which God sets into motion the end of the story, the eschatological plan, to restore the Kingdom of Israel and the blessing of all nations. A Kingdom chapter as a consequence of the birth of the King,


Mary's anthem of praise vividly portrays this.


‘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 ones; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.’


In the covenant and mythic foundations of Israel, YHWH had bared his holy arm to to deliver his people from the Empire of Egypt by destroying Pharaoh's forces. Moses sang these words.


‘Your right hand, O Lord, was majestic in power. Your right hand, O Lord, shattered the enemy." (Ex 15)


Centuries later, the Prophet Isaiah envisions a new exodus, where God delivers his people from Babylon and leads them as a shepherd to the promised land.


"See, the Sovereign Lord comes with power, and his arm rules for him. See, his reward is with him, and his recompense accompanies him. He tends his flock like a shepherd:


Mary echoes these themes, singing that God has acted again, bared his holy arm, to deliver his people from oppression and defeat the enemy. This sovereign grace, Mary sings with hopeful anticipation, will radically reshape the present social order.


Dietrich Bonhoeffer recognised the radical message of the Magnificat when he wrote, ‘The song of Mary is the oldest Advent hymn. It is at once the most passionate, the wildest, perhaps the most revolutionary Advent hymn ever sung.’


Now, the mighty who oversee business as usual, the systems of domination, will lose their authority, while the humble and oppressed will be lifted up.


Through Jesus' advent and birth, the time for radical social change has come. In the great reversal, the upside-down kingdom, that sets the world to right, those who accumulate and hoard wealth will be sent away—no longer will they have thrones or a place at the Father's table. Instead, the destitute and hungry will be blessed and filled.


Mary’s revolutionary song of protest announces a new social order, the advent of a king and a kingdom—The times are changing.’


Let’s imaginatively place on the lips of Jesus a fusing together of our passages from both Mark and the Magnificat.


‘The time for the fulfilment of the hope made to Abraham is fulfilled,

The day of decision is here.

The Kingdom is breaking in.

A new King is in town.

A new social, economic and political order is pressing into the present.

In the light of this good news,

Repent, reorientate and recalibrate your life.

In the light of this good news,

Believe, pledge allegiance and outwork its implications.’




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