“And Mary said: “My soul praises the greatness of the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, because he has looked with favor on the humble condition of his servant.” Luke 1:46-48a
In a world bereft of it, finding joy can be a tall order, not to mention a foolish expectation. Our encounters with difficulty expose the possibilities of joy as platitudes. Nihilism increasingly calls out to weary human hearts disappointed by local religions and their resolutions. Equally, our once-favorite politicians disillusion us when laudable concerns for at-risk communities manifest as pandering. Joy doesn’t come so easy to the perpetually let-down.
Right now, in China, the bars of internment camps blockade Uyghur Muslims. The powerful suppress the subordinated’s cries; the global marginalization of women persists; Black people, Indigenous people, and people of color endure vicious maligning and constant heartache in the United States. Revolutions and their seeming progress spiral into familiar, but preventable oppression, brimming with tears and death.
Curiously, in this passage, Mary, the mother of God, inherited the same broken world as our COVID-haunted generation. One moment, she was conscious of her inferior status as a Galilean woman in a Roman world. Then suddenly, she heard the incarnate deity would swim in her womb. News of Jesus’ birth turned a persecuted citizen under the thumb of Rome into a triumphant woman who rejoiced God would favor her “humble condition” – her subordinated status.
Jesus’ coming still makes all the difference for the down-and-out. He, the prophesied Messiah who holds the keys of life and is victorious over death, reaches out to us with good news, just as the angel did to Mary. He looks upon the condition of the oppressed and says, “I can still reverse it all. Your mourning will be joy. Your dissatisfaction will become praise.” In the same way Christ entered the womb of a virgin, he can slide between those iron prison bars in China (or America), unafraid of the wicked guards, to bring glad tidings of comfort and joy.
Prayer: Lord, we know you care for the lowly because you became lowly. In our darkest of days, you are our joy, and we know joy because we know You.
Author: My name is Zeru Fitsum, and I am a pastoral intern at Mosaic Knoxville, also a resident for Thrive’s Ministry Residency program in the Lonsdale community. I graduated from my undergrad program at Hannibal-Lagrange University with a major that is Biblical Studies. My passion in life is to personally believe and know the liberating God that became Incarnate in Christ and to proclaim the glories of the Word who became flesh, was crucified, and resurrected for the world and its salvation