How often in life do we find ourselves in difficult situations? A friend divulging that their partner has been cheating on them and their marriage is now in question. A person experiencing homelessness reaching out a hand and asking for money. An uncomfortable conversation with someone you know with an addiction and it is your responsibility to address the truth of the situation. A bill coming due, but your bank account does not seem to balance out. The situation for Mary is not too different: unmarried and pregnant.
Imagine the pain Mary felt. Whispers and rumors circulating among her friends. Looks and stares from colleagues who judge without even asking for her side of the story. Shame. Guilt. Anguish. Despair. The list of emotions were undoubtedly endless. Emotions that we too are all too familiar with, for we, like Mary, have heard those whispers and felt those stares. We too have walked into a room, cheeks red, face down, eyes misty and hoped that maybe here no one knows. But, we know that we are not so lucky, and they are not always so nice. With nowhere to turn, Mary cries to God in prayer and finds a compassionate answer: “God looks with favor on this lowly servant, and from that day forward knows her as blessed.”
Imagine the relief Mary felt. The hopeless rumors scattered, and the stares turn away empty. A breath of comfort. A moment of peace. God has “lifted up the lowly, and has filled her with good things.”
This story of Mary, and the upcoming birth of Jesus, is not a story distant and far-off, but one that is alive today. Which characters’ shoes are we walking in? Those of the troubled marriage, the homeless person, the addict, the bankrupt, the shoes of Mary? Or, might we be standing in the shoes of the questioning colleagues, haughty friends, or the mighty ones in their thrones? Or, better yet, could we be filling the shoes of God? Could we be reaching out to those who are troubled and calling them blessed?
As Christmas quickly approaches and scheduled parties begin, may we recognize how this story of mercy continues to unfold in our lives. May we recognize our own conceit, and discover ways in which we can scatter our pride. May we recognize those who are hungry and desperate for good things, and may we not send anyone away empty. May we lift up the lowly, whoever it may be and recognize that even they are blessed. For it is in recognizing our place in this story that our “souls may proclaim the greatness of God.”