SECOND WEDNESDAY OF ADVENT
SCRIPTURE: MATTHEW 18:12-14
Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary's greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
"Most blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled."
And Mary said:
"My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior."
Today is the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. We celebrate Mary’s appearance to Blessed Juan Diego, a Mexican peasant, in 1531. She sent him to the Bishop in Mexico City to request that a church be built for her. Through the miracle of her image emblazoned on his tilma, a kind of cape, the Bishop did build the church and to this day Our Lady of Guadalupe is revered throughout Mexico. People look to Our Lady of Guadalupe as a symbol of the dignity of all people regardless of stature in life or race. In our current times we can look to her to inform our treatment of immigrants seeking refuge, the disadvantaged, and the marginalized.
In today’s reading, we hear the story of the visitation. It is the section of Luke’s Gospel immediately following the Annunciation—when the angel Gabriel visited Mary to announce that God had chosen her to be the mother of Jesus. To bolster Mary’s faith by way of a real-life example, Gabriel also shared the news that Mary’s relative, Elizabeth, was also with child, in spite of her advanced years. Nothing is impossible for God! Mary travels “in haste” to be with Elizabeth.
We can look to Mary as the ultimate role model for discipleship in both her words and actions. When learning how God wanted to work through her, her response was “let it be”. She didn’t question her worthiness, she didn’t express concerns about her reputation, she didn’t question the means by which this miracle would happen, she just said yes to God’s plan for her.
After accepting God’s invitation, the first thing she did was to reach out in service to Elizabeth. When filled with the grace of being aligned with God’s plan, she gave of herself in love. We too can experience this. When connected to Divine Love, it flows through us. This shows itself in how we interact with the world. Connection to Divine Love gives us the source and strength to live lives of love, compassion, forgiveness and service. The true marks of a disciple.
It would be nice if God’s plan for our lives was articulated to us as clearly as it was to Mary. It’s a little harder for us to discern where the Holy Spirit is leading us. The busyness of our lives distracts us from the ability to hear God’s call. We have to pay attention to what is happening inside of us; listening to our hearts to hear the call. This requires time. It requires space in our days. It requires time in silence. All of these things can be in short supply in our culture. The calling can come in the elderly person you encounter who just needs a listening ear or in hearing that a person you know is suffering. The calling comes during every day encounters when we are drawn to respond. As Paula D’Arcy says, “God comes to us disguised as our lives”.
Elizabeth is our teacher here. Her baby leaps for joy in her womb and she is filled with the Holy Spirit. She had the grace to recognize Christ in her midst. She could see that she was in the presence of a miracle and responded with wonder and gratitude. She blessed Mary as one who believed and had faith in God’s plan. We too need eyes to see the miracles of God’s incarnation that are all around us. To take time to see Christ in the beauty of nature, the kindness of a friend or in the rituals of our faith.
Immediately after this Gospel passage is the Magnificat, Mary’s hymn of praise to God. This is a beautiful and inspiring rendition of that passage in David Haas’ song Magnificat (All That I am) You can listen to it here.
What new life is God trying to give birth to through you? Where are you hearing God’s call in what is happening right in front of you?
In what way can you honor the spirit of Our Lady of Guadalupe by getting involved in service or activism in support of the marginalized?
Clare Peiffer is the Meal Program Coordinator for MacCanon Brown Homeless Sanctuary and a 2015 graduate of the Living School for Action and Contemplation. Married with three adult children she enjoys cooking, yoga and spending time in nature