Second Sunday of Advent 2019

Note: Due to early bulletin deadlines, this column does not appear in the Dec. 8, 2019 bulletin.

“I will praise You among the Gentiles and sing praises to Your Name!”

“The Magnificat (Le magnificat)” by James Tissot (1836-1902). From the Brooklyn Museum European Art Collection. This work is in the public domain.

This phrase, which concludes the second reading at Mass today, is very reminiscent of the phrase we heard proclaimed by the Blessed Virgin as we celebrated the Feast of the Visitation. The Lady, the Mother given to us by the Lord Jesus on the Cross, proclaims to us and all the Universe the greatness of the Lord! Her ongoing fidelity is a hallmark of the Gospels as she continues to “ponder all these things in her heart” as the Lord continues to move in her life.

She, in her typical, hidden fashion, is the key player during Advent because even though St. John the Baptist gets all “the press,” it is the quiet “yes” of the Mother of God that made the Incarnation possible, allowing for this holy season to take place. She accompanies her Son, even to the foot of the Cross.  It is there where she and we hear Him proclaim her to be our Mother. She is given to John, not just in a personal sense to him, but in the collective sense of his representing all of us–that in fact she is given to all of us to be our Mother.

St. John so wonderfully points this out again, when he is describing his great vision in Revelation when he sees her who has given birth to the Son. He describes her as our mother when he describes her offspring as “those who keep the commandments of God and bear testimony to Jesus.”  (Rev. 11:17)  We are those ones, keeping the commandments and bearing testimony to Jesus; we are her offspring. We take advantage of being her offspring by praying the Rosary and enrolling in the Brown Scapular. She is also there when His mighty Spirit gives birth to His Bride on Pentecost in the upper room, praying with the group of disciples when the Fire descends.

One of the four pillars

The four pillars of our spirituality as articulated by Pope St. John Paul the Great include a pillar dedicated to the Lady.  His four pillars are that all of us should be contemplative, charismatic, Marian, and, most importantly, Eucharistic. Last Sunday we talked about the absolute priority of the Eucharistic pillar, that the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass is the source and summit of the Christian life. It is the closest we can come to the Lord Jesus while we are still on this side!

Today we consider another pillar, the Marian dimension of our lives. None of these pillars is optional; all are crucial in our relationship with the King of Kings. As we note how He has given her to us as our Mother, we understand that the least that this means is that we should honor the commandment that instructs us to honor our father and mother, which includes, obviously, this heavenly Mother He has given to us.

In addition to honoring her, we should take advantage of the different ways in which the Church has formally presented her to us. (See the Second Vatican Council’s Dogmatic Constitution on the Church, Lumen Gentium, Chapter VIII on the Mother of God and the section in the Catechism on Mary’s role as Mother of the Church, paragraphs 963-975.)  Our Bishop has asked the parishes of the Diocese to consecrate themselves to the Mother of God as a way of continuing the graces of this Year of Prayer for Missionary Discipleship, which we will do at Mass today.

The Lord Jesus chooses to use instruments to build His Kingdom, even as He demonstrated by the Incarnation. So, too, one of the powerful instruments He wants to use in our life is our relationship with His Mother. But as with everything He does, it is always by way of invitation—He invites us to take His Mother as our Mother and have a relationship with her. We need only pray that we would be open to, and He would give us, exactly the relationship with her that He has in mind for each of us. The King always knows what is best for us; in this matter concerning His Mother, let us trust Him and open ourselves to all that He has in mind for us! Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come! — Fr. Ed Fride