The four weeks of Advent can hold several reminders for us. The first is that the Hebrews, the people Chosen by God waited about 4000 years for the Messiah to come. Therefore, we are waiting 4 weeks (actually 4 Sundays) for the celebration of the birth of Christ. We join our Jewish family in the person of Mary as we await the Redeemer’s arrival.
Another “4” that comes to mind is that Mary is in the last month, the last four weeks of her pregnancy. What is she doing? How is she preparing for the birth of the Savior of the world? What can we learn from her at this time?
The last month for the mother is uncomfortable. However, Mary, as with most pregnant women, has duties that mean she must be active in maintaining the home and her husband’s needs. She is going for water at the well and answering the questions of the other women who are there. “How much longer, Mary?” “Are you hoping for a son?” And then, chuckling, “Who knows, maybe your baby will turn out to be the Messiah!”
Mary answers the factual matters and ponders the others in her heart. At home, she is taken up with cooking, cleaning, sweeping, and preparing clothing for the child who will arrive in four short weeks. Perhaps she is remembering the time when the angel came to her and all that has happened since then. Joseph’s concern and the angel’s reassurance, their marriage, and the physical changes in her body fill her thoughts.
Physically she is uncomfortable, but her spirit is glowing. He will soon arrive!
We can learn so much from Mary. She ponders things that cannot be revealed at this time. In a few weeks, all the world will know that she has a wonderful son, a marvelous son. But for now, she must ponder these things in her heart.
Have you secrets you cannot reveal? Do you keep them secrets until the time comes for speaking? With the hustle and bustle of Christmas preparations, are you pondering the arrival of that greatest gift from God, Jesus.
If you say a prayer for the person who will receive the gift you are preparing you may connect yourself with Mary who certainly prayed for (and to) the child in her womb. It does not make any difference if you are preparing a gift for family, for friends, neighbors, or an unknown recipient. Pray for them as you wrap or write or seal their gift. Prayer is a more important gift than the one under the tree. Do not forget about it. It will keep you in touch with that greatest gift ever, ever, ever!
I have been praying for you as I write this Advent message. I thank God always for you.
Prepare the way! Make low the hills, and fill in the valleys! HE IS ON THE WAY!
Oldenburg Franciscan Center
Sisters of St. Francis, Oldenburg