Third Week of Advent: Joy
Tuesday, December 13, 2011
When the angel announced to Zachariah that he and Elizabeth would have their first son in their old age, he said, “You will have much joy and gladness, and many will rejoice at his birth, for he will be great in the sight of the Lord...He will turn many of the people of Israel to the Lord their God” (Luke 1:14-16, NRSV). The angel presented the news of John’s coming birth as good news and Zachariah and Elizabeth received the news with joy.
Similarly, the angel Gabriel greeted Mary with the words, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. You...will bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High” (Luke 1:30-32). Gabriel meant his message as good news and Mary received it as such. When Mary’s cousin Elizabeth saw her, she shouted, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb” (Luke 1:42). Mary sang a song praise, “My soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior...” (Luke 1:46, and following).
Good news? Blessing? Favor? Joy and gladness? I wonder. Of John and Jesus both, it was said, “He will be great,” but greatness in God’s way can be pretty rough. John would become an austere passionate preacher of truth and righteousness and eventually lose his head. Jesus was destined to suffer rejection, ridicule, beating, and death on a cross. Did Mary, Elizabeth, and Zachariah really know the hardships their sons would face in order to bring salvation to humanity? Would I rejoice in the news that my daughters would suffer for the good of all? I wonder.
Prayer: Lord, may we be so selfless as to put your will and the good of others ahead of our own comfort and desires, and may we rejoice in your call to do so. May we have the courage to be great for you. Amen.