Our Advent Devotion for Monday, December 20, comes to us from The Fullness of Time by Henri J.M. Nouwen
And Mary said, “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; for the
Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name.”
Luke 1:46-49 NIV
“Praying demands poverty, that is, the readiness to live a life in which you
have nothing to lose so you can always begin afresh. Whenever you
willingly choose this poverty you make yourself vulnerable, but you also
become free to see the world and to let the world show itself in its true
form. … You can proclaim loudly what you know through your intimate
contact with God, who is the source of all life”
With Open Hands, page 123, by Henri J.M. Nouwen
Lowliness, poverty, vulnerability – are those strengths or weaknesses? Our world certainly doesn’t encourage us to be “lowly” in any way! But God does. These things – and all kinds of humility and smallness – are spiritual goods when we choose them. Poverty should never be inflicted on anyone; when it is, it is a great evil. No one should ever be humiliated – forced into vulnerability or a sense of lowliness. And yet, when we have the freedom to choose these things – an intentional simplicity of life, a humility that allows us to see our true selves, a vulnerability that opens us to others – when we choose them, they can bring us such peace! We can stop trying to keep up with someone else. Instead, we are simply ourselves – our beautiful, lowly selves – before our holy and loving God.
During this season, it seems like we may have forgotten what the birth of this precious, holy baby is really all about. Nouwen reminds us that this one for whom we wait was simple, humble, vulnerable – even lowly. Through this Christ Child, we are also called to embody those same traits as we work to serve this one God sent to lead us.
Lord, help me to embrace simplicity, humility and a quiet life so I may be filled with your love and goodness. Amen.
Henri J.M. Nouwen