by Rev. Joseph Nangle, ofm
Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall
name him Jesus … God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his reign there will be no end. (Lk 1:31-33)
The Annunciation story in today’s Gospel reminds us again of God’s preferential option for the poor. An obscure village in an occupied country — far from the centers of 1st Century Roman imperialism — and a young unmarried woman provide the setting and the principal actor for the greatest event in human history. Liberation will come not from the great and powerful ones of the earth but through a poor Jewish girl and her Son whose “reign will have no end”.
So it is twenty centuries later that people of the Gospel and many others of great good will cling to this same vision: economic and racial justice must finally emerge from “below”, from the “little ones”, in particular, from those whose rights are denied. And if the privileged of the world wish to join the struggle for equality and the right order of things, we shall necessarily have to place ourselves on the side of those who strive to overcome the oppressions which enslave them.
This is not the prevailing wisdom of our times. Yet, today’s Gospel points to a logic which says that we who are not poor, oppressed, or marginalized can help in the struggle to overcome these evils by doing what Pope Francis urges in his wonderful Pastoral Letter, The Joy of the Gospel: “Our commitment does not consist … in activities or programs of promotion and assistance … Only on the basis of … real and sincere closeness can we properly accompany the poor on their path to liberation.” (The Joy of the Gospel, #199)
Do you know by name anyone who is materially or socially poor?
Has a poor person ever taught you anything?
*This reflection is from this year’s Pax Christi USA’s Advent reflection booklet,Waking Up to God in Our Midst: Reflections for Advent 2014. The booklet is still available for purchase as a download by clicking here.