Here’s some more Advent wisdom as Christmas draws near.
Luke 1:39-45, (46-55)
1:39 In those days Mary set out and went with haste to a Judean town in the hill country,
1:40 where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.
1:41 When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the child leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit
1:42 and exclaimed with a loud cry, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
1:43 And why has this happened to me, that the mother of my Lord comes to me?
1:44 For as soon as I heard the sound of your greeting, the child in my womb leaped for joy.
1:45 And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her by the Lord.”
1:46 And Mary said, “My soul magnifies the Lord,
1:47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
1:48 for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;
1:49 for the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.
1:50 His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.
1:51 He has shown strength with his arm; he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.
1:52 He has brought down the powerful from their thrones, and lifted up the lowly;
1:53 he has filled the hungry with good things, and sent the rich away empty.
1:54 He has helped his servant Israel, in remembrance of his mercy,
1:55 according to the promise he made to our ancestors, to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”
“Do good, O Lord, to those who are good.” – Psalm 125
“Pray for your enemies.” Only God knows what such prayer might do for those people, but if you’ve tried it, you know that Jesus’ prayer kills the enmity that lives inside your own heart. It may be the closest we ever get to being Christ-like. As Kierkegaard says, “Perfect love means to love the one through whom one became unhappy.”
But such prayer is agony. It kills us. So Psalm 125 brings relief. It issues no challenge, just asks God to be good to those who are good. I love this. Christianity doesn’t need constant effort. Sometimes it is easy. Pray for those who are good.
I live across the street from a middle school. At recess the tweens separate themselves into castes and cliques. They are too old to play. They act cool. Except for one girl who wears unfashionable long skirts and runs across the playground, bursting into one group after another. She suffers from some disability. It’s obvious. Yet each time she runs into the middle of a group—the Goth kids, the gossips, the athletes, the introverts—they all make room for her. They give her a pound or a shoulder hug. They smile. She smiles. Then she turns to run toward some other group.
I think back to the cruelty of my adolescence and I am simply amazed at the goodness on display.
Oh God, give goodness to that good child who refuses the boundaries of adolescence. And pour goodness over all those good children who see her with eyes of love. And give more goodness to the parents who have shaped them. And rain goodness down on our world as it changes for the better. Amen.
There are many who are enkindled with dreamy devotion, and when they hear of the poverty of Christ, they are almost angry with the citizens of Bethlehem. They denounce their blindness and ingratitude, and think, if they had been there, they would have shown the Lord and his mother a more kindly service and would not have permitted them to be treated so miserably. But they do not look by their side to see how many of their fellow humans need their help, and which they ignore in their misery. Who is there upon earth that has no poor, miserable, sick, erring ones around him? Why does he not exercise his love to those? Why does he not do to them as Christ has done to him?
Source: Watch for the Light
It is not by means of abstract analysis concerning the nature of God and human beings that we come to understand the nature of Jesus, the Man-God. Rather by seeing, imitating and deciphering Jesus, by living together with him, we come to know God and human beings. The God who in and through Jesus reveals himself is human. And the human being who emerges in and through Jesus is divine.
This is the Christian’s joy:
I know that I am a thought in God,
no matter how insignificant I may be –
the most abandoned of beings,
one no one thinks of.
Today, when we think of Christmas gifts,
how many outcasts no one thinks of!
Think to yourselves, you that are outcasts,
you that feel you are nothing in history:
“I know that I am a thought in God.”
Source: The Violence of Love