Mary's Song

Last weekend there was a whole hoo-haa about the injustice of 50 year old Dublin Tesco employee Mary Byrne getting axed on the X-factor... Even prestigious Anglican bloggers have been vexed by it... However, I'm not convinced that the X-Factor being unjust is particularly newsworthy... Indeed, whether the decision as to who stays on is decided by a democratic phone-vote, or by a Cowell-dominated cabal, justice is unlikely to play a huge part in it all.
But today, my thoughts are not primarily with a 50 year old singing Mary from an unprestigious area of Dublin, but a somewhat younger singing Mary, from an equally unprestigious village in northern Palestine. Carrying on the story from yesterday's annunciation, we turn to Mary of Nazareth's song of praise to God in the light of his promise of pregnancy to Elizabeth, her elderly cousin being fulfilled.
This familiar song of praise, read or sung in various forms not only in advent, but throughout the year, should resonate powerfully this year, especially as we look at Mary Byrne's home nation... If we think that public service cuts on the Northern side of the border on this island are savage, indescriminate and ill thought out, of the border here in Ireland, we only have to look south to think "There but for the grace of God etc." But grace has little place in the economic measures being employed to address the current economic crisis. In both jurisdictions, but particularly the south, it is wealthy investment bankers who are being lifted up, and the poor who are being sent away with their pockets even more empty than they were. Where are the economics of grace in this?
Mary Byrne sang powerfully in her audition and in her final sing-off showdown "This is a man's world" (in her case that man is Simon Cowell and she no longer had a part to play in his world so she got the boot), but she could qualify that further by singing "This is a rich man's world." But Mary of Nazareth's song tells us that it won't always be that way, and one day the victims of injustice and inequality will be able to sing with young Mary...

I give glory to the great I AM from centre of who I am!
My spirit sings songs of joy to my saviour God.
For he has seen my lowly position,
I am only a servant... his servant.
But from now on all generations will call me "The happy one";
Happy because the Almighty One has done amazing things for me,
in me and through me —
His name is set apart from all other names.
His love and kindness reaches out to those who understandably fear him,
generation after generation.
He has performed miracles with his strong right arm;
he has scattered like skittles those who are proud and powerful.
He has dethroned rulers and lifted up the lowly.
He has put good food in the bellies of the starving
but has sent the rich away with nothing but a flea in their ear.

from Luke 1: 46-53



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