Advent day 17- The great scattering

And Mary sang:  “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.  
His mercy is for those who fear him from generation to generation.  
He has shown strength with his arm; 
      he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts….”  Luke 1:46-51.

The popular polls would have picked someone else as the mother of Israel’s messiah, but God chose to come to simple and sincere Mary instead of the proud and politically powerful.   It was a slap in the face to the influential….an affront to the demented King Herod who couldn’t stand, as it turns out, thought of a messiah taking over his throne.  So Herod resorted to the murder of the innocent children in the town Jesus was born to prevent such a messiah from surviving.  Herod died shortly thereafter, perhaps even thinking he had managed to snuff out the upstart messiah’s life, but he had failed.  The holy family had escaped to Egypt for a time.   God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 

According to Mathew’s gospel, Mary’s betrothed husband, gentle Joseph, was figuring out how to quietly divorce her after he had received the news she was pregnant.  Joseph knew the child wasn’t his.  His plan was justified; he could only assume Mary had been unfaithful.  And I will assume (reading between the lines) that Joseph’s pride, both in terms of his righteous morals and his personal affection for Mary, had been bruised.  But those plans were dispersed by angel Gabriel’s arrival with a message from God.  The message changed Joseph’s mind.  God has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts. 

Jesus bent down and wrote in the sandy dirt.  A woman caught in adultery had been dragged over to stand near Jesus.  The arresting religious leaders pretended to want Jesus to judge the case.  If he did not condemn her, he would obviously be breaking the Jewish law.  If he did condemn her, he would lose the following of the ragtag masses.  Either way, the religious leaders would win…they thought.  Jesus looked up and said, “Let the one without sin cast the first stone.”  He then went back to writing in the sand and waited them out.  One by one, the accusers walked away, and Jesus then absolved and instructed the woman who had been their pawn.  He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

Whether a ruthless king, or a confused and loving fiancee, or the judgmental, self-righteous elite, or whether it is me….He has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.  Week after week, God works in my heart and in the hearts of all of God’s children, transforming us, changing us, teaching us.  Teaching us to think of others rather than pursuing only our own welfare.  Teaching us that surface appearances are indeed deceiving.  Teaching us that our self-righteousness can blind us.  Teaching us not to be controlled by our pride.  Teaching us to wash feet when necessary.  Sometimes it takes a lifetime, but Jesus comes into our lives to scatter the proud thoughts of our hearts so that love will ultimately win.