December 23 / Fourth Sunday of Advent
Elizabeth...said, “And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” ~Luke 1:42
If there are any fashionable virtues these days—and sometimes it seems that the very concept of virtue is obsolete—we can be sure that humility is not among them. Nearly every aspect of our culture screams at us constantly to promote ourselves, to showcase our accomplishments, to market ourselves in the most flattering ways possible. In a social and political environment that crackles with boastfulness and one-upmanship, Instagram and Facebook and other forms of social media further stoke the fires of self-aggrandizement. To a world that valorizes the bright lights and the big city, quietly going about one’s business, acting with humility and staying out of the limelight are liabilities, stances taken by “losers” and underachievers. But in point of fact, if we focus on our own importance and our many virtues, we will miss the encounter with God. As British mystic Evelyn Underhill once wrote, “We make the first and greatest of our mistakes in religion when we begin with ourselves, our petty feelings and needs, ideas and capacities.” Elizabeth shows us how humility prepares the way to God. The aging wife of a late-career temple priest, whom God has made the mother of John the Baptist, spends no time congratulating herself on her elevated status and her privileged role. Rather, she displays joyful and genuine self-effacement at Mary’s visit, overwhelmed that her young cousin, bearing the Christ child in her womb, has come to see her in the hill country. As the last days of Advent tick down, we would do well to let go of our puffed-up self-regard and open ourselves in humility and joy to the coming of Our Lord.
Mighty and magnificent God, may I worship you on bended knee, subordinating all thoughts of self to the imperative of worshiping you. Amen.