God's Preference

21 December 2006: Thursday, Simbanggabi

Luke 1, 39-45: The Visitation

We remember that the message of Gabriel in the Annunciation was that both Mary and Elizabeth would become pregnant. Thus the visitation of Mary to her cousin Elizabeth is proof that God kept His word. And Elizabeth, on the other hand, confirms Mary’s pregnancy. Elizabeth knew about it, and thus greets her, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Both women are full of joy as they share their pregnancies. James A. Wallace in his book, Preaching to the Hungers of the Heart, tells us that “Mary is a model of responding to God’s grace and the Spirit’s counsel as she goes forth to be with Elizabeth and to utter the prophetic song that proclaims the agenda of God and her willing part in it.”

Mary sings the prophetic song, the Magnificat. She sees the strangeness of God: He reverses all plans and designs, defies human conventions, chooses the weak instead of the strong, and lifts up the lowly like Elizabeth and her. She sings with great joy and gladness because the Lord has favored the weak. She knew she didn’t deserve it, but God chose to make her deserving of it! Even Elizabeth knew that God also willed that she bore a son in her old age. In their being ordinary, God broke into their lives.

The reaction of both Mary and Elizabeth is not surprising for common folks: they are the easiest to please. I gave a Jesuit Music Ministry CD to Aling Toyang, one of the ladies in Payatas, and the same CD to a wealthy lady. They both acknowledged the gift, but Aling Toyang kept thanking me for remembering her --- until now. Indeed, for someone who has less, a little gift means a lot!

Such is the feeling of Mary and Elizabeth. God has favored the poor. God’s attention means a lot to them. And if God prefers the simple, insignificant, lonely, lowly, poor and ordinary people like us, then, like Mary, we could have said to whatever God wills, “I am the handmaid (a servant, a slave girl) of the Lord!”

The world’s standard has it that kings are born of queenly rich women. God’s standard is reverse. We are all unworthy of the presence of God, but God graciously became present to us. God visited us and intervened in our life stories.

Today, the Gospel encourages us to be like Mary and Elizabeth. We develop the habit to share not just our personal problems and opinions, our ideas and daily routines, but include in our conversations, the stories of how God has visited our lives. We prepare for the visit of the Lord in our ordinary lives by preparing our hearts as we prepare our homes to our visitors, and opening our doors to God’s graceful entry into our lives.

*Canto Cinco or C5, who regularly sings at the 11oo am Sunday mass in UP, at the Jesuit Music Ministry Christmas Concert, Child: Emmanuel, at Shangrila EDSA on 15 December 2006. They are singing the Magnificat in this picture.

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