Advent Reflections – December 13, 2015

Willing to Make Sacrifices for Others: Mary in Scripture

The thing about choices is that by choosing to walk down one path I have to necessarily reject or sacrifice whatever lay down the opposing path. When Mary was visited by Gabriel, she had two choices. By choosing her fiat, her yes to God, Mary was at that same moment saying “no” to the hopes and dreams she had envisioned for her life.

Mary was a young girl, recently betrothed to Joseph. Just as any couple just starting out, they must have had plans for the future. Maybe growing Joseph’s business, assisting their parents and other relatives, participating in upcoming pilgrimages to Jerusalem, etc. Mary’s participation in God’s creative plan meant sacrificing other dreams she (and Joseph to an extent) might have had. Her trust and obedience to God allowed her to let go of the life she dreamt she would lead. Her love for God, and by extension her love for Jesus, gave her the strength she needed for such a sacrifice. The life that God had in store was beyond her wildest imaginings.

Can you think of a time you sacrificed something out of love for another person? Did it change you in any way?

Advent Reflections – December 5, 2015

Open to Life: Mary in Scripture

Mary is the perfect example of what it means to be open to life. She was a young girl, recently engaged, when she is visited by the angel Gabriel. We say that so casually – “she was visited by an angel” – like it was a normal occurrence. “She was visited by a friend, her father, her sister, etc.” To say that the experience would have been shocking is an understatement. Mary was not only visited by a being that lives on an entirely different plane of existence from us, she also interacted with it, talked with it, questioned it. The angel’s opening greeting (if you can call this admonishment a greeting) is “Don’t be afraid.” You don’t say something like that unless there is reason for fear. You don’t tell someone “don’t be afraid” when presenting them an ice cream cone or asking if they would like to sit with you at lunch (at least I hope you don’t have to). No, Mary would have startled at best, perhaps panicked, certainly stopped in her tracks.

Mary’s willing submission to the angel’s proposal is the culmination, rather than the start, of her openness to life. Mary already had a relationship with God, she was a prayerful person, she, who was immaculately conceived, had perfectly aligned her will with God’s throughout her whole life. Mary’s “yes”, her fiat, to carry Jesus within her demonstrates what it means to welcome life wherever and whomever it comes from.

How am I inspired by Mary’s “yes” in my own life? How can I say my yes to God today?

Happy Birthday to my brother Michael!