My dear brothers and sisters in Christ,1
We are in the final days of our Advent journey! Already four candles are lit. Tomorrow, as you know, is Christmas Eve. S it is a special time in the life of the Church as we come up to these four weeks of Advent, to the celebration of Christmas.
And our readings today bring our attention to the Blessed Virgin Mary, our Mother. As I was saying at the beginning of Advent, our Blessed Mother and John the Baptist are the face of Advent.
Mary, our Blessed Mother, is the one the prophets were hoping for — as we heard in the first reading from the prophet Micah this morning. Mary is the one the prophet was talking about.
Mary is she who is to give birth. From ancient times, she is the one God chose to be the mother of his Son.
So during the Advent season every year, we reflect on Mary. Mary, we can say, is the woman of Advent. And in a special way this Advent, we need to reflect on Mary as the woman of faith.
Because as you all know, we are celebrating the Year of Faith. And today is the last Sunday of Advent during this Year of Faith. Because the Year of Faith is going to end, as the Holy Father has indicated, on the Feast of Christ the King in this coming year. So this is the Advent of the Year of Faith.
And Mary, Our Blessed Mother, is the one who shows us what faith is all about.
We heard St. Elizabeth say in the Gospel this morning — Blessed are you who believed. That’s who Mary is! She is the first one who believed in the Word of Jesus Christ.
And when we think about the figure of Mary, the person of Mary, that we find in the Gospels, we find that she is a model for us in our discipleship.
Mary listened to the Word of God that came to her through the Angel Gabriel. She pondered God’s Word in her heart and she asked questions. How is this going to happen? My brothers and sisters, we need to be like Mary, our Blessed Mother. Like Mary, we need to have this deep love for the Word of God.
We need to read the Gospels all the time — every day if we can. We need to listen to God’s Word. We need to pray with the Bible and ask questions: What does God’s Word mean for me in my personal life? Just as Mary did. How is this going to happen? How is what Jesus is saying in the passage of the Gospel, how is that going to happen in my life?
And, my brothers and sisters, we also need to be ready to do whatever God is asking us to do.
We need to say those words we heard in today’s second reading, from the Letter to the Hebrews. We need to say — as Mary did and as Jesus did — Behold! I come to do your will, O God!
We need to offer ourselves to serve God’s plan. We should pray and say every day: Behold! I come to do your will!
This is the way our Blessed Mother lived. And this is the way we see in today’s Gospel.
It is a beautiful passage of the Gospel that we all know well. It’s the Visitation, the second Joyful Mystery of the Rosary. Mary has just learned that Jesus is in her womb. And in haste, quickly, she runs to bring Jesus to her cousin, St. Elizabeth. So we see that Mary is filled with so much joy. She has such a beautiful desire to bring Jesus to others!
And I’m sure that you have noticed what happened in the dialogue between our Blessed Mother and St. Elizabeth. When Mary tells her, St. Elizabeth, about Jesus, St. Elizabeth is filled with joy! She rejoices because she realizes that she is witnessing an extraordinary moment in the history of salvation. She also rejoices because she understands that she is a child of God. And she says: How does this happen to me that the mother of My Lord should come to me?
My brothers and sisters, our Blessed Mother is always coming to us. She’s really close to each one of us. She’s our mother and as a wonderful mother she cares about each one of us personally.
St. Elizabeth understands that Mary is the Mother of the Lord! Beautiful words she says to Mary: Blessed are you among women! And blessed is the fruit of your womb!
The same words we say many times, probably every day, when we pray the Rosary. When we pray the “Hail Mary.” Hopefully we can say the “Hail Mary” with that same joyful spirit and strong faith that St. Elizabeth said those words to Mary, our Blessed Mother.
Rejoicing that we are witnesses of the great mystery of redemption. Of Jesus coming to Earth, to be like us in everything except sin. To redeem us. To give us joy and happiness and understanding that, my brothers and sisters, we are children of God, beloved children of God. That we are the family of God.
And that’s what Christmas is all about, isn’t it? God’s family and our families.
So my brothers and sisters, this is the beautiful meaning of this Advent season. Because of Jesus — who comes to us through Mary — because of him, we are children of God!
Mary is the Mother of Jesus, and she is our Mother too. We need to love her and to learn from her as our mother. Because she is the mother of Jesus, no one can help us more than Mary to grow as children of God.
And there is one beautiful thing that most of the time, it seems to me, that we take it for granted. But there’s a beautiful lesson in the life of Mary. Her life, when you think about it, her life is filled with silence and simplicity. Nobody knows about who she is. She didn’t make a big deal of who is as she was. All the events in her life that we read about —the Annunciation, the Visitation, and all the rest — they are in a sense “off the radar.” They were silent events. Hidden. Nobody was there to see them or pay special attention to them.
A beautiful lesson for us. Because most of the time that’s the reality of our lives. We all live simple and quiet lives. The good we can do, and we do, is seen and known just by a small circle of the closest people that are with us— in our families in our neighborhoods; and in the places where we work. The simplicity of our life must be the place where we are faithful to God’s will and imitate our Blessed Mother. But that simplicity of our daily life is, my brothers and sisters, where the new evangelization must happen.
It’s not a matter of becoming, I don’t know, a big movie star or a big sports star, or a big preacher. It’s a matter of being faithful to God in our simple, daily life.
So the goal of our life is in the simplicity of our daily life try to become more and more like Jesus. So just like Jesus did, we have to learn from our mother Mary what it means to be a child of God. Don’t you think that Jesus learned many many things from his mother? That’s the way we all learn, from our mother and father. And Jesus was equal to us in everything. So in the same way that he learned, we, each one of us my brothers and sisters, we have a wonderful opportunity to look at Mary. To admire her. To learn from her. To listen to her. To know that she is always there for us that she loves us so much. That she is a woman of faith.
So that’s the way which this Advent and this Christmas we can really become good children of God and be part of the family of God.
So let’s ask Mary, our Blessed Mother, to help us to always be like her. To live with Jesus in our hearts and to share Jesus with everyone we meet and in everything we do.
Then we all can have a wonderful Christmas. A Christmas where the center is Jesus, Mary, and Joseph. A joyful and peaceful Christmas that we can share with our brothers and sisters, with our families, and with the whole world.
1. Readings (Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C): Mic. 5:1-4; Ps. 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; Heb. 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45.