Below is an excerpt from our family's Advent letter this year. Andrea and I wrote it together.
“…Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” - Luke 1:42
As parents we have found much to contemplate in the story of Mary, the mother of Jesus — in particular, her humble embrace of God’s calling and her diligent attentiveness to the work of the Holy Spirit. The angel Gabriel’s visit to Mary signaled the transformation of the world, but for Mary this also implied other, perhaps unwelcome implications — she surely knew she would endure humiliating rumors about Jesus’ paternity. And Mary’s last appearance in the Gospels is to stand at the foot of the cross and watch her son die (Jn. 19:26-27). Wouldn’t most of us take Gabriel’s proclamation as a death sentence? It meant the end of whatever expectations Mary might have had for her life. Yet she accepts her calling as God’s humble servant and embraces her cousin Elizabeth’s proclamation: “Blessed art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb!” (Lk. 1:42). Mary sees her place in the divine plan: “For, behold, from henceforth all generations shall call me blessed” (Lk. 1:48b).
Because she knows her true blessedness, she has eyes to see the Spirit at work in her life. Twice St. Luke tells us that Mary “treasured up all these things, pondering them in her heart” (2:19, 51). She treasures her experiences not merely for what they are in themselves but also for what they foreshadow: she sees what God is doing and joyfully anticipates what he will do.
To love and obey God is rarely convenient. It can be easy to see only the inconvenience. It sometimes looks as though there’s no divine plan at all — just a godless world going off the rails. Yet we know and we trust that God is at work in our lives through the Holy Spirit. We know, too, that with the advent of Jesus, God has inaugurated his kingdom. We look forward to the final restoration of all things. This is what Advent is about: remembering what God has already begun in Jesus and living in the light of the world to come.
Blessings this Advent.