The most common cop-out against God, religion, or Christianity is “all the evil in the world.” What about the evil in me? Doesn’t the evil in me deserve acknowledgment and punishment? Doesn’t my selfishness help cause and perpetuate “all the evil in the world”?
God allows suffering partly because humanity’s evil works it and deserves it, but He redeems suffering to reveal something else. “He has shown strength with His arm” means He has bared His arm. The image is God baring His muscle to use His power. What is He doing?
He is revealing Himself, which turns everything on its head, and shows us reality is not defined by human reasoning, but by God’s Is-ness – which is very different from our own. God is establishing His Kingdom in an evil world: He treats me better than I deserve and teaches me to do the same for others. Mary recognizes His revolutionary presence, and her Magnificat reminds me that in the turmoil of evil and suffering, God is quietly turning everything right-side up with sacrificial love.
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Scripture References for The Show
Luke 1:46-55, the words of the Magnificat
And Mary said:
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has regarded the low estate of his handmaiden.
For behold, henceforth all generations will call me blessed;
49 for he who is mighty has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.
50 And his mercy is on those who fear him
from generation to generation.
51 He has shown strength with his arm,
he has scattered the proud in the imagination of their hearts,
52 he has put down the mighty from their thrones,
and exalted those of low degree;
53 he has filled the hungry with good things,
and the rich he has sent empty away.
54 He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,
55 as he spoke to our fathers,
to Abraham and to his posterity for ever.”
This week’s LOVE the Word exercise (interactive scripture meditation, or lectio divina) is based on an Ignatian* personality approach. Go on! Try it!
Then the eyes of both were opened, and they knew that they were naked; and they sewed fig leaves together and made themselves aprons. And they heard the sound of the LORD God walking in the garden in the cool of the day, and the man and his wife hid themselves from the presence of the LORD God among the trees of the garden. But the LORD God called to the man, and said to him, ‘Where are you?’ And he said, ‘I heard the sound of thee in the garden, and I was afraid, because I was naked; and I hid myself’ … And the LORD God made for Adam and for his wife garments of skins, and clothed them” (Gen 3:7-10, 20).
Imagine you are in the Garden of Eden, as Adam or Eve, just before these verses. What do you see around you? Are there animals? How does it feel in your skin? What’s the climate like? What do you hear? What are you thinking? What does it feel like to walk with each other and with God “in the cool of the day”? What do you smell? What does that fruit taste like as its juice bursts onto your tongue?
Now, read the passage again.
Where, lately, have your “eyes opened” to sin? What do you feel now, that you did not feel moments before you recognized or felt the consequences of that sin? What is different? Why are you afraid? As you hear God approaching for His daily walk with you, why are you hiding? What are you hiding? Do your fig leaves help? Hear Him call your name. What will you do, now, with the death that follows sin?
What thoughts and emotions bubble to the surface as you read and meditate on this passage? Have you allowed God to clothe you with His sacrificial forgiveness? Talk to Him about your thoughts and feelings. What does He want you to do?
Tell Him what you will do. End your meditation by offering Him the fruit of this LOVE the Word exercise – what He wants you to do and what you resolve to do. Ask Him for the grace to obey and to continue in obedience, and to leave outcomes to Him.
*Interactive scripture meditations, LOVE Exercises, vary weekly according to the four personalities, or “prayer forms,” explored in Prayer and Temperament, by Chester Michael and Marie Norrisey: Ignatian, Augustinian, Franciscan, and Thomistic.