December 21, 2012
Coordinator, International Studies Education
Song of Songs 2:8-14 or Zephaniah 3:14-18a
Psalm 33:2-3, 11-12, 20-21
Our collective Christmas joy is reaching a fevered pitch. In today’s readings hearts are rejoicing, songs are being sung, and Elizabeth’s unborn son is leaping in her womb -- all in anticipation of the birth of the Son of God. In our twenty-first century world, carols are playing, decorations are hung, and ovens are churning out Christmas treats. It seems to be, as the song goes, “the most wonderful time of the year.” How, then, does Elizabeth’s sense of unworthiness fit into this joyous scene, as she utters: “How does this happen, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” And how does our own similar sense of unworthiness --which may stem from hurts caused, losses sustained, shortcomings perceived or potential unused-- fit into this special season of Advent? In Elizabeth’s case, instead of unworthiness, which has a negative connotation, we could label her reaction a sign of humility, a virtue with a much more positive tone. In consequence, Elizabeth – like Mary - allows God to do great things through her.
Applying this label of humility to our own lives, perhaps we could choose to be gentler with ourselves concerning our own sense of unworthiness. Perhaps we could remind ourselves that we are a work in progress and that we do not need to be perfect in order to be God’s instrument this very day. It is important to remember that we are God’s work in progress; God’s creation. God chose to use Elizabeth, despite her own sense of unworthiness, in a very special way, for God’s divine purpose. As people of faith, we strive to trust that God will use us as well, in all our imperfections, for His divine purpose. To follow Elizabeth’s example, then, is to not allow any sense of unworthiness to prevent us from feeling profound joy during this special season and throughout the year.