The first Sunday of Advent is upon us, which marks the first day of the new liturgical year. The word Advent means “coming” or “arrival.” We Christians commonly associate this with the birth of Christ on Christmas. But there is an ancient tradition that follows that Jesus will come again during the Advent season! Hence the special emphasis on preparing our own hearts to receive Him when He comes again.
The story of salvation, starting with Adam and Eve and continuing throughout the Old Testament is a thrilling adventure with mountain-top highs and dark valley lows. With this new year upon us, I find it makes the most sense to go back to the beginning, but for brevity’s sake, let’s jump straight into the New Testament.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux so beautifully writes that when St. Gabriel announced to Mary that she had been chosen to be the Mother of God, it was as though the angels in Heaven held their breath waiting for her reply. The angels had known of God’s plan all along, hence the prideful “non serviam” battle cry of Lucifer, “I will not serve!” He refused to accept Almighty God taking on the role of a creature much lower than the angels. So, while they had a taste of it, they didn’t know exactly how the Incarnation was going to happen.
To quote the great Archbishop Fulton Sheen, “At the moment that Mary pronounced Fiat or “Be it done,” something greater happened than the Fiat lux (let there be light) of creation; for the light that was now made was not the sun, but the Son of God in the flesh.” Once those words passed her beautiful lips, the angels let out their breath with a sigh of sweet relief. The time had now come.
The Incarnation (God becoming a man) and the way He chose to come, is one of those great mysteries that we may never fully comprehend. St. Augustine says that the world was unworthy to receive the Son of God directly from the Father’s hands. He gave Him to Mary in order that the world might receive Him through her.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church states that the Church sees here the fulfillment of the divine promise given through the prophet Isaiah: “Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.” This virgin wasn’t just any ol’ virgin, but one who was spotless from her birth.
“What Lucifer has lost by pride, Mary has gained by humility. What Eve has damned and lost by disobedience, Mary has saved by obedience.” Says St. Louis DeMontfort. To piggyback on this Marian giant, I want to add something similar from St. Irenaeus. “The knot of Eve’s disobedience was untied by Mary’s obedience: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.”
Fortunately for us all, according to St. Thomas Aquinas, “She uttered her yes in the name of all human nature.”
The first Joyful Mystery of the Rosary is the Annunciation. The Church in her wisdom places this powerful mystery before us every Monday and Saturday all year long for those with a special devotion to the rosary. One can never tire of meditating upon this beautiful event.
This week of Advent, I encourage you to pray with the Incarnation. Read Luke 1:26-38. Ask the Holy Spirit to walk with you as you contemplate the scene of the Angel Gabriel coming to Mary. Think about the angels in heaven waiting on her answer. Ponder Mary, in her humility, asking how it could be. Thank God for the moment when all time seemed to stand still as Mary opened her mouth and proclaimed Fiat!
Thank you, Jesus, for the mysteries of our faith.
Have a blessed Advent. I will be praying for you!
Until next time, your sister in Christ,