We hear more from John the Baptist in the Gospel reading today, but the great feasts of this week have me thinking about the Blessed Virgin. We celebrated her Immaculate Conception on Tuesday and the great feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe just yesterday. We will also hear part of Mary’s story on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, part of the tradition of the season.
The Blessed Virgin Mary has a dual role in the season of Advent, and this mirrors the dual theology of the season, that we are preparing to celebrate the birth of Christ and also to be ready for him when he comes in judgment.
As Mother of God, the first part of her role is obvious. Mary accepted God’s invitation that came to her through the angel Gabriel. She took her place as the servant of the Lord who was willing to do God’s will no matter the consequences. Because of that, she allowed God’s power to come upon her and cause the conception of Jesus. With the help of Joseph, she was in Bethlehem at the time of birth of Jesus, and she followed all the proper forms in making sure that he was accepted as part of God’s covenant with the people of Israel.
Mary’s second role is related in the Scriptures that tell us that she was at the foot of the cross when her Son died and that she was with the church as it awaited the first Pentecost.
As Jesus died, he placed her into the care of his Beloved Disciple, who was both a real person and a symbol standing for the Church. Mary was in the care of this man for the rest of her life, and the devotion of the Church has continued and grown throughout the centuries. We are devoted to Mary under many names and titles, two of which we celebrated just this week. Under these titles, Mary is patroness of our nation and the Americas.
Mary did more than sit passively in the care of the Beloved Disciple. She did not enter into retirement. As the Acts of the Apostles reports, she joined the infant Church in the upper room and was present with them during the days of waiting before the Holy Spirit came. Mary was one of the first believers, one of the first to make herself and the world ready for her Son’s coming in glory. As such, she becomes a true example for us. Mary did not sit back on the laurels of her status as Mother of God. Nor should we sit back and think that because we are members of the church, all things will happen for us automatically. We have a responsibility to make ourselves ready for his coming just as Mary did.
We have a few more days to prepare ourselves for the celebration of Christmas, and a lifetime (however short or long our time remaining) to be ready to greet the Lord when he comes in his glory. We can do no better than to join Mary in saying yes to the will of God and standing with the Church.
God bless you!
Fr. Phil Cyscon