How do you hear an angel's voice? What senses – or sensibilities – are awakened to become aware of a spiritual sound? Long, long ago, a young girl knew the answer. Before she became the subject of a litany of titles and was given a prayer of her own, Mary of Nazareth received a visit from an Old Testament angelic messenger who praised her with heavenly words and gave her an invitation in language and meanings never heard before. Her acceptance, her "Yes," recast her entire being right down, as it were, to her DNA. The first Advent had begun.
The gospels of Matthew and Luke usher us into the sound and feeling of the birth of Our Lord. What we must come to appreciate is how the dramatic events constituting the narrative of the Nativity are to be ushered into us. Just as Jesus would perform his works for the benefit of others, Mary, the Model of Faith, has lived for the sake of all humanity and continues to be an advocate and an inspiration for the human race. In the mystery and the power of divine forces at work, we, like the apostles at the Transfiguration, want to prostrate ourselves in awe. In Mary, we have a human being. We may, therefore, find in her someone to whom we can bring life's challenges and mortality itself, knowing that she has faced them and, through her Son, has conquered them.
Millions of the faithful have nurtured a deep and close prayerful relationship with Mary. Often, I have heard it said, "She's my buddy." and that "I could not get along without her." Of all the saints, Mary occupies a unique place. Perhaps, it is her relationship as mother of the Lord that places her so far above the apostles, disciples, and the other great figures of the Church. And, as a mother, she historically represents, for most people, a symbol of tenderness, constancy, and grace. The implications of Mary's acceptance of her part in Salvation History resound through the ages and comfort humanity to this day.
From some reluctance to disturb their privacy, we avoid thinking about the tough conversations Mary and Joseph must have had. For starters: the revelation of her pregnancy in an unfriendly society, the decision about traveling to Bethlehem at a precarious time, wondering whether to flee Herod's murderous thugs, where to go, then when to return from Egypt. Any one of these choices would petrify most of us, but the brave couple forged through them, relying on a tripod of support: their own intelligence, their faith in God, and God's fidelity. And somehow it all worked out, God didn't take away any of the natural human pain, but God remained present with Mary in it: through Joseph, Elizabeth, Jesus, his friends, and the beloved disciple at the foot of the cross. This shows that God is present for us, in the people and events carefully placed in our lives.
Kathy Coffey, Mary's 'Yes', St. Anthony Messenger
Spiritually, we possess Mary's DNA because it resides within the very life of that living organism called the Church. The pattern and functioning of who we are as Christians finds its source in the great Mother of the Church and her welcoming of the angel's message. During that first Advent, Jesus lived within the body of Mary; in that first Christmas, Jesus lives within the body of the Church. As scientists labor to understand the significance of the millions of microbes for which we all host in our bodies and how they are instrumental in protecting us from disease and adding to our overall well-being, we must learn to interact with the ways that the Holy Spirit and the contributions of all the faithful throughout time teach, strengthen and protect us. The daily work of the Christian is to reveal the presence of Jesus born in us to the world. This accepting and active living of the faith is what the angel asked of Mary, but what, I believe, Mary also asks of us. In her faithful fulfillment of her vocation, Mary shows her purpose and destiny – and ours. Expressed by the mystical theologian, Meister Eckhart, "What good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to birth the Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture?" The person that Mary was and is and the person we are and ought to be hinges on our response to her response. Mary's fiat changed the very essence of her being and led all generations not only to call her blessed, but also to be blessed because of her.
All of us at Clemons Productions prayerfully extend to you and your families a most blessed and a most joyous Christmas.