Dec. 21: Trust, don’t verify

(Ryan Franco / Unsplash)

Dec. 21: Third Thursday of Advent

Elizabeth exclaimed with a loud cry…. “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled” (Lk 1:42-45).


There is irony in Elizabeth’s praise of Mary’s faithfulness. The older woman had experienced firsthand the ramifications of not trusting in God’s promises. At the moment when Mary arrives breathless to announce her pregnancy, Elizabeth’s husband, Zechariah, had been unable to utter a word for six months because (unlike Mary) he had challenged the angel’s message.

It is easy for us to empathize with this good man. After all, he and his barren wife had been praying for years for a child, to no avail. So when Gabriel appeared out of nowhere to announce to Zechariah in the temple that the aging Elizabeth would bear a son, we can understand his human desire for proof: “How shall I know this?” he says skeptically. Disappointment had diminished his capacity to trust in God’s promises.

Battered by life, we sometimes find it hard to trust, too. When things do not work out the way we want them to—illness gets the better of us, a job goes to someone else, a paper is rejected—we retreat into the self-protective stance of the realist or the skeptic. Zechariah’s response to Gabriel was to put up his dukes, scoffing disbelievingly at what must have been literally incredible news. Mary, in contrast, received the call of God with the open hands of trust. Today we continue to hold up as our model the full-hearted fiat of assent that Mary gave in response to the Lord. With the openness to possibility that is the province of the faithful, she placed herself willingly in God’s service. We, too, are called to give our hearts and lives to the Lord.

Prayer: Faithful and unshakable God, Help me today to relax my clenched fists so that I may receive your abundant love. Amen.

For today’s readings, click here.

Comments are automatically closed two weeks after an article's initial publication. See our comments policy for more.

More: Scripture / Advent

Don't miss the best from America

Sign up for our Newsletter to get the Jesuit perspective on news, faith and culture.

The latest from america

The news from Ireland and the United States reminds us of Herod, of Pharaoh. What culture betrays its children?
The EditorsMay 26, 2018
A woman religious casts her ballot May 25 in Dublin as Ireland holds a referendum on its law on abortion. Voters went to the polls May 25 to decide whether to liberalize the country's abortion laws. (CNS photo/Alex Fraser, Reuters)
The repeal of Ireland's Eighth Amendment, which guarantees the right to life of the unborn, is passing by a 2-1 margin with most of the votes counted.
Education Secretary Betsy DeVos testifies at a House Committee on Education and the Workforce, Tuesday, May 22, 2018, on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Jacquelyn Martin)
The Secretary of Education stirred up controversy when she said it was up to schools to decide if an undocumented student should be reported to authorities.
J.D. Long-GarcíaMay 25, 2018
Thousands gathered in Dublin May 12 to say "Love Both" and "Vote No" to abortion on demand. They were protesting abortion on demand in the forthcoming referendum May 25. (CNS photo/John McElroy)
“Priests and bishops get verbal abuse by being told, ‘How can you speak for women? You don’t know what it’s like!’”
America StaffMay 25, 2018