Last year, when we came to the fourth week of Advent, we only had from Saturday evening to Sunday evening before it was time for the Christmas Eve masses. This time we get a little longer - about two days. It’s still not much time, but after several weeks of preparing ourselves for the coming of Christmas, I’m sure we’re all looking forward to getting to the actual celebration.
I think it would be worthwhile to spend this bit of Advent just being quiet and taking it all in - and there is no one better to teach us about this than Mary.
Mary is intimately tied into the story of Christmas and the whole story of Jesus. She was the first one to experience an Advent. She knew, for nine months, that the savior of the world was going to come. While all the Jewish people were expecting a Messiah, she was the first to be certain of when He was going to come.
She spent the time between the Annunciation and Christmas in a powerful intimacy with God.
Mary holds such an important role for us because she was so important for her son. His humanity came from Mary. She gave Him every cell that would make up His body. The same body that would be nailed to the cross. She shared her very life with Him in a way only a mother can.
Because of all this, she is a powerful guide for us. She can take us into the deepest meaning of the Incarnation, of Christmas. Mary represents all of Israel and then all of the Church - really, all of humanity - giving a resounding YES to God coming to be with us.
That is something worth honoring and imitating.
When Mary came to Elizabeth, as we just heard, Elizabeth praises her - even though Elizabeth is the older of the two and is married to a priest while Mary is younger and married to an unknown carpenter. Through the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth knew that the most blessed of all women was standing before her. And that the baby she was carrying, one that no one but Mary would know about, was somehow the Lord.
And what makes Mary blessed? She believed that what was spoken to her by the Lord would be fulfilled.
Let us have that same faith. God wants to come to us and change our lives. He wants to save us and transform us. He is already here. He is giving Himself to you right now. Let Him in. Say yes, like Mary.
By following her example of faith and trust, we can truly be ready to celebrate Christmas.