And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed; for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name. His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation. 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; he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.” Luke 1:46-53 (NRSV)
If we consider the words of Mary in this well-known song of praise, she celebrates that God has not favored the rich and powerful but instead has lifted up the humble, the lowly, the poor. She declares the good news of the reverse order that God establishes by having the Savior come through her—someone society would have deemed unfit and unworthy. In fact, we know that some elected officials would have called her lazy or given her some other disparaging label since she was an unwed, teenage mother without an overabundance of financial resources available to her. For sure, Mary was not giving a big campaign contribution to anyone.
Yet, God chose Mary. And Mary declares, “God has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.”
This is revolutionary. It is earth-shattering. It is simultaneously scandalous and profound. It is a part of the Christmas story. It is what the words “Merry Christmas” are really all about: God’s favor is with the lowly, the humble—not those with status, material riches, power, position or the ability to make large campaign contributions.
Today, Congress stands ready to pass tax legislation that puts the lives of those who are most in need in jeopardy in favor of the wealthiest among us. Congress has again put their own selfish ambition and political power above children, the elderly and the poor. They are ready to do marvelous things for the rich and well off and to further demoralize and vilify the poor and vulnerable (yes, I used the recently banned “v” word). Pushed by an Administration that has touted the fact that they are bringing Christmas back by uttering the words of a greeting, the tax bill is a clear indication that there is no genuine concern for Christmas, good tidings for the poor or justice for the most vulnerable. Instead, making the rich richer and the poor poorer is the priority.
This tax bill will increase the national deficit by more than $1.5 trillion dollars, while favoring the richest in our nation and corporations on the backs of the poor, the elderly, children and the most vulnerable. It will end health care coverage for 13 million people by removing the individual mandate, destabilizing the market and making health coverage premiums cost prohibitive. In addition, Republicans have already made it known that they are driving up the debt so that they can cut safety net programs like Social Security, Medicare and Medicaid—programs that provide support for those who Jesus called “the least of these.”
In the end, arguing about whether or not people should say Merry Christmas is ridiculous when we are silent about policies that will harm those who God lifts up. Celebrating a baby born in a manger is ludicrous when we refuse to make sure Dreamers are not penalized for the decisions of their family members who brought them to this country when they were too young to have a say in it. Saying “Merry Christmas” means nothing for those whose lives will be negatively impacted by this tax bill. “Merry Christmas” falls on deaf ears as we wait for the Children’s Health Insurance Program to be reauthorized while members of Congress, ready to spend more than $1 trillion on tax breaks for the rich and corporations, claim they have no money for health care for 9 million low-income children. “Merry Christmas” rings hollow for the millions in Puerto Rico and the U.S. Virgin Islands who continue to eagerly wait for an aid package that Congress has had no time to take up because they’ve been trying to pass a tax bill that will further harm the American citizens who live in those disaster-stricken areas.
This tax bill is the real Christmas perversion. And, we ought to do all that we can to try to stop it before it is passed.
We ought to rush to the phones and district offices of our representatives, the same way we rush to the malls to buy Christmas presents for our loved ones. We ought to send a Tweet or post a message registering our opposition to this unjust legislation. We should push back and clap back against the injustice of this bill with the same urgency we click on deals for the perfect gift for those on our Christmas shopping list. We ought to do something to stand up and speak out this Advent season against the real Christmas perversion and we need to do it right now.