Like St. Francis, I have always loved the Holy Season of Advent, but this year Advent has an even deeper meaning for me, as we are pregnant with our second child! Katelyn and I will soon welcome another baby boy. He will arrive, God willing, right before we begin the Season of Lent! And he comes after we lost our middle child this past March, whom we are still grieving.
This past month, we had an appointment at Abington Lansdale, and we got to see how our newest son was growing! We saw every bone, both kidneys, lungs, brain, and the four chambers in his heart beating at a miraculous 148 beats per minute! We also counted every toe and finger! At just over 9oz he is 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 simply; 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? Or will we concentrate on worldly good and toys and outings instead and miss Him completely?
Come Christ Child, Come! Blessed Advent!