After the Angel Gabriel appears to Mary she breaks into a song where she sings about herself as a servant in a humble position.
To our modern ears, the word humble is treated more like a compliment than an insult. We talk about humble homes and humble beginnings, with a meaning somewhere between modesty and sweetness. But the word humble finds its roots in the Latin word humilitatem, meaning “insignificance, lowness”.
Unpacking the term a bit further, the root word of humilitatem is humus, and means “from the dirt”. You can see traces of it in the word human. It carries with it the image of a beggar covered in dirt, or a captive covered in ash. The history of the word makes it clear–
Humility follows humiliation.
This concept is important to understand, because Mary sings that “God has been mindful” of her “humble state” and He has come to “lift up the humble” from the dirt and bring “down rulers from their thrones”. (Lk. 1:48) Suddenly we get a sense that life has humiliated Mary, but she sings the first Christmas carol because God is lifting her and a fallen humanity out of the dirt and up into His glory.
This year, rethink the way you Christmas and be humbled.
Associate with people you consider of a lower class than you. Forgive someone who has neither asked for it or deserves it. Accept blame when the fault isn’t yours. When you do, you are on the path to humility. You are being humbled.
When you prepare for Christmas by being humbled, you’ll be brought up when the Lord arrives instead of being among those brought down.
…for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant… He has lifted up the humble.
What does today’s reading tell you about people? (Yourself and others.)
What does today’s reading tell you about God?
How do these ideas change the way you Christmas this year?