I wonder sometimes whether Mary was the most pure-hearted, kind, or loving woman to have lived. She may have been the bravest, too. She was singled out of all women who had ever lived for a unique honor: to bear the Messiah. But it was an honor in the eyes of God only, for many years. In the eyes of people, it made her look bad. She risked the acceptance of her family, the love of her fiance, the security and status of an honest woman. She probably faced scorn and contempt for something she was assumed to have done. She may have been the best of us all, but serving God made her look like the worst in the eyes of a world that judges by appearances.
It is a lot like Jesus. He had a goodness that made others ashamed of themselves, and so he was accused of evil, tried for it, convicted of it, "numbered with the transgressors". He found himself on the wrong side of human judgment for serving the Father.
John the Baptist, Peter, Paul, and a long line of others have found that serving God is a ticket to being despised by the world, even being found on the wrong side of the law, or popular opinion, or a human court.
Sometimes I think that the church's life parallels Jesus: his life had a miraculous beginning quickly followed by persecution, some quiet years, then times of popularity and acceptance -- followed by people turning away, the leaders rejecting him and leading a persecution, starting a campaign designed to ensure his death. Jesus' miraculous resurrection started the church's story: a miraculous beginning quickly followed by persecution, some quiet years, then times of popularity and acceptance. It looks like now we may be in a phase of people turning away, leaders rejecting Jesus and leading a persecution, starting a campaign designed to ensure the death of the church. But man's opinions are not God's opinions, the world's condemnation is not God's condemnation, and the world's idea of how to destroy Christianity has backfired badly before.
At Advent, we remember Jesus' arrival some two thousand years ago, and look forward to his return. Come, Lord Jesus.