Tuesday, May 31, 2011

Bringing Christ to All People

Mary, the mother of Christ, is the greatest of all Christians because she was the first to believe and the first to share the Good News with others. She is the example by which all Christians should strive to live. The example which she shows us in today's gospel reading from Luke Chapter 1 versus 39-56 is bringing Christ to all people through service.

Mary has just found out that she is to be the mother of the savior. Does she waste time basking in the glory? Does she spend time sending out press releases to announce how awesome she is? Does she send a message to everyone so that they will know she's God's special chosen one? No. She does none of these things. She immediately leaves her family and friends to go to serve her cousin Elizabeth who lives in the hill country of Judea. The distance from Mary's home in Nazareth to Judea is 78 miles, an estimated four days journey on foot. She goes because the Angel Gabriel has told her that Elizabeth is six months pregnant, and Mary knows that Elizabeth is elderly. She doesn't wait to be asked before she decides to serve, she anticipates the need. This kind of unselfish, humble attitude of service is exactly the kind of attitude we Christians should carry with us at all times. We should always be on the lookout for opportunities to serve others.

Mary's decision to act on the knowledge the Angel gave her results in her literally carrying Christ to Judea and to Elizabeth and to Elizabeth's unborn child, John. Elizabeth and John are both filled with the Holy Spirit as a result of Christ's presence, and acknowledge Mary as being uniquely blessed by God. Most people, having spent 4 days walking to serve someone else after having been chosen as the savior of the world, might take a little time to enjoy the accolades. They might even thank Elizabeth for the kind, but well earned, praise. They could even, conceivably, become a little smug. Mary does none of these things. Instead, she turns the praise given to her into praise for the God who is the reason she is being praised at all.

Mary's example leaves us with clear direction on how we are to behave as Christians:
1) Never use God's favor as a way of elevating yourself above others;
2) Keep your ears and eyes open for opportunities to serve others;
3) Be willing to go as far as you must in order to help someone else;
4) Carry Christ with you at all times so that you can always share Him with others;
5) If you are praised for doing His work, turn that praise back to God;

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