December 20, 2012

Mary and the Mystery of the Coming of Christmas

In these special days just before Christmas, the Church calls to mind, among other things, the grace of the Annunciation, that extraordinary visit of the Angel Gabriel to the Virgin Mary.   St. Bernard addresses the Virgin of Nazareth telling her that all of Heaven holds its breath waiting for her to give her answer.  He begs her to open herself to the Word of the Father by the praise and thanksgiving she offers through her human word.  This address to Mary is also an address to the whole Church, to all baptized Christians who animated by Christ constitute His Mystical Body.   

All of heaven holds its breath waiting for the Church today to welcome the Word made flesh anew, in our own time, in our own culture, in our own hearts.  This means that each of us as a responsibility to live lives of thanksgiving and praise.   Such a life constantly avails itself to the wonders God reveals in this present moment of our lives.   This kind of life is carried by gratitude for the man undeserved gifts of love lavished upon us without our even having to have asked.   This kind of life is lifted up in praise even in the face of sorrow, pain and hardship - because this kind of life knows that what most defines reality, our personal reality, is not evil or failure - but rather God's love.  And this kind of life lives for love, lives by love, lives in love -- it also knows the honor of dying by love as well.

Advent, these days where the whole Church strains for the coming of the Lord, these hectic days of social gatherings and hospitality and shopping and decorating and writing greetings and working and entertaining excited children and comforting impatient adults, these stressful days of preparing for family reunions or travel or else being burdened with the thought of loneliness or abandonment or the lack of basic necessities -- these are the days where we must also find time for silence: that sacred silence in which we open wide the doors of our hearts to the Word of the Father,  that peaceful silence that allows Him to repose in our hearts just as He reposed in womb of Mary.  In this wondrous silence of praise and thanksgiving, no matter the hardships and the blessings we might know, the Word of the Angel to the Mother of the Lord is also a Word to us in these beautiful days of joy and sorrow, anxiety and hope.