Scripture Focus: Ezra 8:22-23
22 I was ashamed to ask the king for soldiers and horsemen to protect us from enemies on the road, because we had told the king, “The gracious hand of our God is on everyone who looks to him, but his great anger is against all who forsake him.” 23 So we fasted and petitioned our God about this, and he answered our prayer.
46 And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord
47 and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,
48 for he has been mindful
of the humble state of his servant.
Reflection: Humility and Joy—Joy of Advent
By Erin Newton
Before the group of families began the journey from Babylon to Jerusalem, Ezra called them to prayer and fasting. They sought God’s protection for the perilous road ahead.
Ezra knew that he could trust God. He had studied all the great acts of God in history. He knew God watched over him and prepared the way. But he also knew of the stories of danger and tragedy in the past. It is one thing to know that God is trustworthy and another thing to step out into the wild world.
Ezra felt the depths of his need for God’s provision. He fasted. He prayed. He denied himself the comfort of food so he could seek God with humility.
Four and a half centuries later, a young girl would begin a journey that would change the course of the world. Mary was chosen to carry the world’s greatest gift. With each step, she walked along a path of faithfulness to her call.
Ezra’s journey was a path back to worship at the newly built temple. Mary’s journey was the unpretentious path from one trimester to another. But Mary did not travel to worship God, he tabernacled within her.
Ezra and Mary sought a spirit of humility as they spoke to God. Both were blessed by the hand of God through miraculous protection.
Humility involves emptying oneself. It requires letting go of our plans and self-confidence. It requires the ability to be misunderstood and uncomfortable.
Ezra and his companions arrived in Jerusalem overloaded with treasures and offerings. For decades in captivity, they had been unable to present sacrifices to God. Nearly 200 animals were sacrificed upon their return. A joyous return to the house of worship.
Mary faithfully carried the incarnate deity within her womb. She laid aside her own plans and became the Lord’s servant. She knew that whatever God said would come to pass and she trusted in that promise.
The joy of Advent requires humility.
The road ahead of us is difficult. There are scars of past trauma and reminders of grief yet healed. We stop every few steps and question the journey itself. Why us? Why this path? We need his eye and hand upon us.
God’s humble servant, Mary, prayed to God in her womb, “My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior.” May we seek God this Advent with humble hearts.
Divine Hours Prayer: The Call to Prayer
I will call upon God, and the Lord will deliver me.
In the evening, in the morning, and at noonday, I will complain and lament, and he will hear my voice.
He will bring me safely back…God, who is enthroned of old, will hear me. — Psalm 55.17
Ezra 8 (Listen 5:40)
Revelation 7 (Listen 2:56)
This Weekend’s Readings
Ezra 9 (Listen 3:19) Revelation 8 (Listen 2:15)
Ezra 10 (Listen 6:19) Revelation 9 (Listen 3:30)
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Read more about Saccharine Joy — Joy of Advent
Artificial sweeteners don’t destroy our ability to taste sugar or honey, but our addiction to ecstasy and luxury makes us insensitive to and unsatisfied by true joy.