24 Dec 2013

The Magnificat is a frequently read part of the Bible at this time of year. And it also gets set to music. It is Mary’s response to the announcement that she is to be the mother of Jesus, God’s Son. (See Luke 2: 46-55 for the actual reading.)

When I heard it read on Sunday I was struck especially by the part that says, ‘He [God] has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty.’

Many of us would say we supported the hungry being filled with good things. But what about the idea of the rich being sent away empty? Is it possible to have one without the other? Some people would say that if we can grow the economic cake bigger then poorer folk will get more in absolute terms (even if not more in relative terms). But what if we can’t grow the cake or the cake gets smaller (as it has in recent years)? Should we be looking at procedures to reduce the income or wealth of the rich in order to redirect more income and wealth to the poor? This does appear to be what God is saying.

Of course we would all like to see the overall economic cake getting bigger in this country and around the world. We do not want to take actions that would make that cake smaller. But whatever size the economy (or cake) is, should it not be shared out more equally than it currently is?

Christmas may be a time of cheerfulness and goodwill to all men. However, it is also a time of harsh reality for some who do not have enough to live on.

So I want to wish all reading this in Glasgow Shettleston and beyond a very happy Christmas. Of course, we can be happy without a lot of material wealth. But hopefully we can also remember that one of the messages of that first Christmas was a promise of (and a challenge to) a more equal sharing of the world’s resources.