Georgia Bulletin

The Newspaper of the Catholic Archdiocese of Atlanta

Mother Mary: The Jewel Of Advent

By LORRAINE V. MURRAY, Commentary | Published November 27, 2008

Most of us have heard the message proclaimed from the pulpit, more than once: Advent is a season of waiting, a quiet stretch of spiritual preparation leading to Christmas.

However, the people in the pews also know that Advent is a very busy time because, let’s face it: It’s during this season that most of us wrap gifts, bake cookies and do the million and one things leading to the celebration on Christmas Day.

Still, even as we tend to these practical matters, there is a way to cherish Advent as a season of longing and spiritual expectation.

When I think about Advent, I picture a mother-to-be preparing a room for her baby by gathering a crib, clothing and toys for the little one who will one day fill her life.

First, though, she must empty the room of anything that she doesn’t need.

Mary is the perfect symbol of Advent because she had to empty herself of worries and fears to prepare her heart to become God’s mother. To do this, she uttered the prayer of perfect hope and trust: “Let it be done to me according to thy word.”

At Advent, we must also empty our hearts of whatever is useless and worn out.

For some, it may be a sense of guilt because we can’t seem to do enough for God. Maybe we picture him as the angry old man in the sky, always demanding more.

For others, it might be worries about kids, jobs and finances. Maybe we figure that if we fret long enough, we can somehow control the future.

Mary’s perfect prayer reminds us to trust in God’s love. And to surrender control to Him by saying, “Let it be done to me according to thy word.”

We know Mary was not arbitrarily chosen by God at the moment of the Annunciation but rather was part of a plan put in motion since the beginning of time.

And like her, we too have been in God’s loving heart since the dawn of time. As the Prophet Jeremiah says, “Before I formed you in the womb, I knew you, before you were born I dedicated you” (1:5).

Mary may have wondered at first what role in God’s plan she was actually playing. And during Advent, we too may wonder: What is God calling us to do?

Advent bids us to be patient, to be silent and to wait. It reminds us that this season holds a promise, just as every human life does.

And the promise of Christianity is this: We are all God’s beloved. Even those stuck in jobs they hate; even those in troubled marriages; and even those fretting and worried and scared.

We may have different jobs and vocations, and we may be various sizes, shapes and colors. Still, we are all called to shine forth Christ’s love in the dark corners of the world.

Mary lived a humble and hidden life. For nine months, she did what so many women do during their pregnancies: She sang, prayed, walked, laughed and felt the swelling of new life within her.

At times, she may have felt weary, ill, confused or scared: the same feelings experienced by all mothers-to-be. And maybe, whenever she was particularly troubled, she repeated her prayer:

“Let it be done to me according to thy word.”

Mary is our mother. And during Advent, we can ask her to help us empty our hearts of guilt, worries and fears. We can ask her to help us prepare a place to receive the Christ Child on Christmas Day.

During a season of so much glitter, gaiety and gift-giving, let’s not forget the humble little woman who was the first to welcome Jesus into the world. Let’s not forget that Mother Mary truly is the jewel of Advent.

And each day during this season of longing and expectation, we might turn to her in prayer: “Dear Mary, Help me await Christmas in silent expectation and hope. Help me to prepare a beautiful place for your Son in my heart. And then show me how to bring Him into the world, as you did long ago.”