December 19, 2016 - God, Enemy of the Perfect

But the angel said to him, “Do not be afraid, Zechariah,
because your prayer has been heard.
Your wife Elizabeth will bear you a son,
and you shall name him John. 

Then Zechariah said to the angel,
“How shall I know this?
For I am an old man, and my wife is advanced in years.”
And the angel said to him in reply,
“I am Gabriel, who stand before God.
I was sent to speak to you and to announce to you this good news.

After this time his wife Elizabeth conceived,
and she went into seclusion for five months, saying,
“So has the Lord done for me at a time when he has seen fit
to take away my disgrace before others.”

Luke 1:5-25

God is the enemy of the perfect.  Everyone God chooses for greatness either has some serious disability or failing that would seem to disqualify them from service, or eventually disappoints.

Righteous Noah’s righteousness leaves him as soon as he disembarks the Ark as he engages in some shameful exchange with his cursed son, Ham.  Abraham and Sarah, chosen to be the parents of all the Abrahamic faiths, are too old to conceive a single child.  Lot, who is rescued from Sodom for his righteousness, later impregnates his own daughters in a drunken stupor.  Moses, who is chosen to negotiate the Israelites release from Egypt is a stutterer.  The entire purpose of the Book of Ruth seems to be to muddy the genealogy of David and Jesus – interposing a non-Jew in the bloodline.   Even David has his friend Uriah killed in order to move in on his wife.   And in today’s reading, a barren woman is to be the mother of John the Baptist.

The theme is expressed directly in the Beatitudes:  the wealthy, healthy and socially connected are not blessed – it is the sick, the poor and the social outcast that receive all of God’s attention.  

Image: The Annunciation, c. 1420, artist unknown