From Season of Promises
The person who cares nothing for praise or blame knows great inward peace, and it is easy for the person whose conscience is clear to find contentment and quiet. Praise does not make you holier than you are, nor blame more wicked. You are exactly what you are – you cannot be said to be any better than you are in the eyes of God.
(Thomas à Kempis, The Imitation of Christ)
Advent is a time to cultivate genuine humility. Be only what you are, no more, no less. Take Mary as the model of humility. When the angel says, guess what, you’re going to be the mother of the Messiah, what does Mary say? “Oh gosh, I’m way too unworthy, you’d better find somebody else”? No. Mary says, “Let it be with me according to your word,” (Luke 1:48). Who is she to question God’s judgment? Who is she to blow against the wind?
Who are we to question God’s judgment? Echoing the cartoon characters, Popeye, we can say, “I yam what I yam, and that’s all what I yam.” God calls us just as we are to be all that we can be. Who are we to blow against the wind?
Later, when Mary visits her cousin Elizabeth, and Elizabeth waxes on at some length in praise of what God is doing through Mary, does Mary go into a fit of false humility? “Oh gosh, please, it’s no big deal.” No. She does not question Elizabeth’s evaluation of the situation. Instead, she joins in praising God who is the only one to whom praise is due anyway. “My soul magnifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant. Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed.” (Luke 1:46-48)
The spirit of Advent whispers: Be all you are called to be, like Mary, and give thanks to God, like Mary.
Lord of Advent, help me to be all that you call me to be, and help my heart to be filled with prayerful praise and thanksgiving to you. Amen.