“Do not be afraid, because your prayer has been heard… You will have joy and gladness.” Lk 1:13-14
In addition to being a single mom of two young daughters, my best friend is also the primary caretaker of her disabled older brother. Lifting him into his wheelchair, bathing and changing him: these responsibilities have been a constant for her entire life. His recent battle with aggressive cancer was even more complicated by his ongoing health challenges.
Perhaps because of his inability to communicate verbally at times or his physical handicaps, the people entrusted with his care let his basic human needs be compromised. In their mind he was “a lost cause.” When the hospital staff was content to leave him sitting in a urine-soaked bed or with his mouth caked shut from lack of oral care, my friend was harassing hospital executives, calling attorneys, and coordinating his care.
Her consistent message was: his life is worth more than this. He is worth more than this.
As I sat in traffic on the 405 listening to her rant about her latest run-in with hospital executives, it suddenly struck me that this was how fiercely God fights for my dignity. God never settles for a life that is “good enough.”
In both of today’s readings God takes the emptiness in people’s lives and fills it beyond their wildest imaginations. God’s love is not complacent and touchy-feely. God enters into the messiness and discomfort in order to journey with us out of the darkness and into a fuller, richer life.
What does it feel like when I imagine a God who loves me so much that He is willing to do anything to bring me greater life? Can I imagine God’s love being fierce and consistent enough to change the areas of my life that seem most hopeless and discouraging?