It is December. We decorate our homes – trees, strings of lights, candles, boxes brightly wrapped – the whole roll out of concrete Christmas. How peaceful is your heart? The Fourth Sunday of Advent symbolizes Peace with the “Angel’s Candle” reminding us of the message of the angels: “Peace on Earth, Good Will Toward Men.” Besides lighting the final purple candle on the Advent wreath, we feel the growing excitement for the coming of Christ at Christmas. The Prince of Peace is almost born.
What energy do you hold in your heart? I believe what we hold in our heart is a microcosm of what we bring into the world. This past week I had to acknowledge my less-than-perfect preparation of heart during this season of waiting for the coming of Christ and ask for help to get my heart back in order. It’s been a beautiful week contemplating the incarnation and how God humbled himself to become human to show us how to honor the divine within us. Mary knew how to do this and serves as a role model for us. She’s rooting for us to have hope, joy, and peace. My peace I give to others.
Today we also celebrate the third antiphon with the traditional title for Christ, O Root of Jesse’s stem (O Radix of Jesse), a sign of God’s love for all His people. Isaiah prophesied a restoration of David’s throne with a new branch budding out of the old root. Christ is the root of Jesse in a two-fold sense: He is the descendant of David, who was the youngest son of Jesse, and He inherited the royal throne. The angel foretold to Mary, “The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever and his reign will be without end” (Luke 1:32-33). Our hearts more and more urgently cry out for God’s reign to extend all over humanity: “Come, save us, and do not delay.”
The root of Jesse shall come, the one who rises to rule the Gentiles; in him the Gentiles shall hope.Romans 15:12
As we get ready for the birth of love itself in Jesus Christ, let us take the necessary steps to prepare our hearts and minds. What if we bring out the creche or nativity scene and place it where it can be seen and, if the moment is right, contemplated? What if, in the Spirit of the season, the creche characters began to talk? What if they asked us questions to bring home our faith, to encourage us into gratitude and commitment? How would we answer?
I am Mary.
I have more titles than I need.
I am the queen of this and the mother of that.
But I want to tell you
I am most at home in your crèche.
It is here,
as I contemplate my Son
I have the time
to treasure all these things in my heart.
It is here
I realize the truth of the virgin mother,
the one who conceived in the Spirit
and brought forth in the flesh.
My son will say as much.
When a roadside woman
will bless my womb and breast,
he will praise my ability
to hear the Word of God
and bring it to fulfillment.
It is what I learned from Gabriel.
He saw in me
more than I saw in myself
and troubled my ordinariness
with the announcement
of a full and unfolding grace.
I became both cooperator and observer.
The moment I said, “Yes,”
I swam in rivers
not of my own making.
How little we know!
How much we have to trust!
Hold my hand.
I will take you to the place
where the spirit rejoices,
where the umbilical cord to God is uncut,
where lowliness becomes largeness,
where all space and time is pregnant,
where the center has no circumference,
where the divine child lays his head
upon the breast of your earth.
My question is the answer I found
when I said, “Let it be!”
How do you treasure life?
The perspective of Mary was originally published on December 22, 2019, written by author and theologian John “Jack” Shea for Catholic Extension. Smitten With Goodness exists to shine a light on goodness. The presence of the Catholic Church is a guiding light in many places darkened by poverty and conflict. Catholic Extension uplifts faith communities and supports individuals who bring the light of Christ to the most forgotten areas of our country, and you can support their mission here.