Posted by: Melissa Bane Sevier | December 15, 2017

Mary’s song and the tax plan

Mary has the best lines in the gospel drama surrounding the birth of Jesus. Her song (sometimes called The Magnificat because that is the opening word in Latin) isn’t just beautiful, it’s also both comforting and terrifying. It’s comforting to the poor and frightening to the wealthy. It was countercultural then; it is countercultural now.

My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
for God has looked with favor on the lowliness of God’s servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is God’s name.
God’s mercy is for those who fear God from generation to generation.
God has shown strength with God’s arm; God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
God has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
God has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
God has helped God’s servant Israel, in remembrance of God’s mercy,
according to the promise God made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to God’s descendants forever
. [from Luke 1]

It is this: even before the child of promise is born, God is sending a message that the tables are going to be turned. The poor will be on top. The rich will be emptied of their money and will learn what it’s like to lose power and even to go hungry. What would that produce? Even one day of poverty, powerlessness, and hunger might move people to be more compassionate toward those without money, power, or food.

And has this ever happened? Sure. On a small scale, people’s hearts change every day. Eye-opening conversion. On a scale that would reflect Mary’s song? We’re still waiting.

This Advent season of waiting, as American Christians attend church and hear Mary’s song, the US congress is passing a new tax code that reinforces just the opposite of what the gospels envision.

Let’s be clear. In this country anyone can have any political beliefs, even political views that decrease taxes on the wealthy while shrinking relief programs for the poor.

Anyone can have those views. But no one should be deluded by thinking those beliefs are Jesus-y. From the prophets which informed the Jesus story to the birth narratives to the parables and beyond, there is a single witness about poverty. God has a preference for the poor. Period. They are to be honored, not vilified.

So, believe what you will about tax “reform” and the poor. But if you believe that God rewards the wealthy and that “all those poor people are lazy and don’t deserve help,” you’re just wrong. Poverty is complex, and pulling out the rug of support in order to fill the purses of the wealthy is the antithesis of the messages surrounding the birth of Jesus.

Listen to Mary.

© 2017, Melissa Bane Sevier



  1. Great article Melissa – very powerful message I think.

  2. new “word of the day” Jesus-y.

    LOVE it….and your writing.


  3. Well done as usual.

  4. Thanks, Mike.

  5. Woah! Speaking the gospel loud and clear. Thank you, Melissa!

  6. Thanks, Wanda.

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