Tuesday of the Fourth Week of Advent

“He has scattered the proud in their conceit” (Lk 1:51). In this Mary rejoices; do we? Do we even know what Mary is saying? What the New American translation renders as “their conceit” in this verse is often translated as “the imagination of their hearts.” The parallel, ideal and idealized world that we create for ourselves is a “conceit,” that we create “in the imagination of our hearts.” Often, we prefer this conceit to the the realities of the world that God gives us, one which rarely corresponds to the world that we would wish to create for ourselves. We have ordered our world in our own image, an image that we have fashioned for ourselves on the basis of the “deeper” [and often unexamined] desires of our hearts. We want to be “like gods” and insofar as we can, we try to remove the obstacles that we encounter to living “like gods.” But a self-referential god that acts as we often do when we try to get our way is not a god worthy of our worship, even if his temples are often full in these days before Christmas.

Christmas is just three days away. Will we allow the God of Jesus Christ scatter us in our conceit? Will we rejoice when God confounds us by casting us down from our thrones and by lifting up those whom we have looked down upon? Will we be pleased when he sends us away empty and fills with plenty those to whom we have closed the borders of our hearts? Mary rejoices in this, as did Hannah before her. We would rejoice in this, also, if we would let ourselves be “tamed” by the God who creates and loves us, and who comes after us as a lover for his beloved. But we cannot be raised from the dust unless we realize that our riches are but dust. If the Lord does us the great mercy of reducing our idols to ash, let us not turn against him, for it is not in our palaces but in a forsaken place, warmed by ox and ass, that we will see his face.

December 22nd, 2015