1 Samuel 1 : 24 – 28
Luke 1 : 46 – 56
As we draw near to the Feast of Christmas, our sacred scripture presents to us once again a central Advent personage. Luke and the Church hold Mary in high esteem as we prepare to celebrate the Nativity. Today, we hear her wonderful "Magnificat" echo through the ages down to our own time and place. In our first reading, Hannah gives Samuel over to the Lord’s service. Mary follows in that glorious tradition and gave herself over to the Lord’s service in every way by consenting to be the Mother of the Son of God.
When we think about it, Mary becomes for us the most impressive example of what Advent preparation is all about. Essentially, when the Angel Gabriel asked her to become the Mother of Jesus, the angel was asking her to shift away from her planned life as wife of Joseph and enter into the mystery of God’s plan for her life. She had questions, concerns and confusion but said yes, I will live in the mystery of what God has in store for me. She positioned herself in faith to be the handmaid of the Lord. She went on to visit Elizabeth and was welcomed with an amazing greeting. How could Elizabeth know so much of what was happening. She seemed to know more than Mary herself. Mary’s wonderful response reflects upon the greatness and goodness of God in her life. She accepted Elizabeth’s greeting and lived in the mystery it evoked.
Mary would go on to live the mystery. As she raised the child Jesus, she had to have asked herself over and over who he really was and why was he here. She helped him to grow in wisdom and age but was left to ponder so much in her heart. She lived the mystery. She heard Him begin to preach the good news of the Kingdom and wondered what it could mean. She lived the mystery. She saw him give sight to the blind, hearing to the deaf, strength to withered legs, wholeness to lepers, forgiveness to the sinner and life to the dead and was left to wonder about questions with no immediate answers. She lived the mystery. She watched her Son die on the Cross and received His body into her arms. She lived the mystery. She was present in the Upper Room when her Risen Lord revealed His glory and His victory over sin and death. She lived the mystery. In her final moment on earth, she was assumed body and soul into the heavenly Kingdom. She lived the mystery.
Our Blessed Mother teaches us how to live the mystery of our own life, our own calling to walk with God and one another. She teaches us Advent faith, to always expect God to enter our lives with His divine guidance. She teaches us Advent trust, to place our lives in the hands of God and hope He will lead us to salvation. She teaches us Advent love, to place another ahead of ourselves, to place ourselves at the service of God’s Word in our lives. She teaches us Advent perseverance, to walk with divine assistance through the questions, concerns, joys, and trials of the mystery of our lives. She teaches us Advent courage, to always move forward in the mystery of life expecting that the birth of Jesus will bring us to the fullness of the life He was born to manifest.
Fr. Richard Burke, CP, is a member of St. Paul of the Cross Province and also serves on the Provincial Council of Holy Cross Province. He lives at St. Ann’s Monastery in Scranton, Pennsylvania.