Like St. Francis, I have always loved the Holy Season of Advent, but this year Advent has an even deeper meaning for me, as I grieve my mom and try to manage the chaos and pressures of our world to stay joyful for my children.
Just a few months ago, as we welcomed our third child into the world, I began to put together a collage of photos from the journey to birth and I came across images from her anatomy scan! At that appointment, we saw every bone, both kidneys, lungs, brain, and the four chambers in his heart beating at a miraculous 158 beats per minute! We also counted every toe and finger! At just over 9oz she was already fully human! God is amazing! It got me thinking about how Mary must have felt as she waited expectantly for Jesus!
I have always been strongly devoted to our Blessed Mother and have a particular fondness for Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary is the Theotokos. The Theotokos is a Greek title consisting of two words: Theos meaning “God” and tokos meaning “bearer” or “birther.” As Catholics, we rightfully defend the teaching that Mary birthed the whole Person of Christ. Since Christ is a divine person, she birthed God Himself! Hence, she is rightly called Theotokos or “God-bearer”; in Latin, Dei Genitrix!
Think of the miracle…from the moment of the Angel’s glorious announcement, Jesus grew in silence – in secret – within her womb. After all, it was Mary’s grace that has attracted God’s attention. And what is this grace? It is what Luke shows us in her conversation and her actions – courage, boldness, grit, ringing convictions about justice. Not submissive meekness. You see, I have learned that Grace is never submission, and the power of God is never meek.
Advent, then, is the season of such a great secret, the secret of the growth of Christ, of Divine Love growing in silence, beautifully! It is a season of humility, silence, and growth. In a world that seeks more titles, more recognition, more fame, and ever more power, this central attribute is often lost, even among our church leadership. But here it is, deeply engrained and needed: Christ came in humility to save the world, even those who would rather seek lofty titles and positions that are hallow and fleeting, rather than spend their time serving the poor and doing to the true work of the Gospel.
I wonder, as we ponder, reflect, and pray, on the mystery of the Theotokos, if we also recognize that Christ is secretly growing in us and living in us just as beautifully? Do we even perceive that we are Christ-bearers, too? This is a mystery that we need to allow to unfold in us, just as Christ unfolded in Mary. Jesus grows in us now, and that heightens our need and demands us to become better people.
Mary is the prototype, the finished product of what it means to have prepared for God’s coming to us, and so acts as the ideal Advent figure, “the one who waits with, and for, the Lord’s coming”. Jesus gestating within the belly of woman, Christ gestating within the consciousness of all.
What about us? How will we honor the Christ coming in our own expectation, wonder, and waiting even in the midst of a weary world? I wonder if we have it still within – deep within us like Mary – to concentrate on worldly good and toys and outings or can we instead look with wondering eyes and hearts as we anticipate His coming?
See you Sunday as we journey into Advent anew.
Come Christ Child, Come! Blessed Advent!