Advent is a season of preparation extending over four Sunday before Christmas. The word Advent comes from the Latin “advenio” means “to come to”, and refers to the coming of Christ. Thus, the term “the coming” includes three references: First of all to our celebration of Christ’s birth at Christmas; Second, to the coming of Christ in our daily lives through Sacrament of the Eucharist; and finally, it refers to his second coming at the end of time. Therefore, our preparation during Advent should have all three comings in mind. We need to prepare our souls to welcome and receive Christ wholeheartedly.
What perfect example of receiving Jesus wholeheartedly, than Mary. The Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception just around the corner, stand as a reminder to us all, that Mary is truly the central figure of the Advent season. It reminds us all that God bestowed such favour on Mary, not for her sake, but for ours. She stands as the sinless one, the perfect disciple, the model of the church, and her assumption the promise of our resurrection. In fact, it through her “yes” consenting, that the Son of God was conceived and live among us in the flesh. It is through her “yes” that Jesus began his way along the road of humanity. Mary “yes” shows how complete and unconditional, her love for God without reservations. But more importantly, her saying “yes” tells the whole story of God saving Love; that “though he was God, he did not think of equality with God as a thing to be grasped, but emptied himself by taking the form of a servant and being born in the likeness of men. And being found in human form, he humble himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross. Therefore God has highly exalted him and bestowed on him the name that is above every name” (Philip 2:6- 9).
Thus, our daily saying “yes” to God creates our own salvation stories. It tells of how God work in and with us through the Holy Spirit for our redemption. God offered life eternal and we say “yes” in complete favour of his eternal love, and as a result life everlasting follows. It sound straight forward and easy but in reality, it demands sacrifices by dying to self-daily. It demands faithfulness and the joy of carrying daily crosses with Jesus each day. It demands perseverance through the uncertain and unclear moments of everyday life.
Pope Francis remind us that “we are experts on the half-yes; we are good at pretending not to understand what God wants, and what our conscience prompts us to do. We are also smart, and never give a true no to God, and say: ‘I am not able’, ‘not today, but tomorrow’, ‘Tomorrow I will be better, tomorrow I will pray, tomorrow I will do good.” It is through these half-yes and delay responses we offered to God each day, which leads us to sin.
Nevertheless, this season of Advent is an opportunity for us to reflect on our saying “yes” to God. Indeed, God desire to see us and awaits our “yes” wholeheartedly. Like Mary, we should be completely open to the actions of God in our daily activities. We should be like Mary, presenting no obstacle to the transforming power of God’s love. Like Mary, we should be pondered of all that God graces us with.
The Immaculate Conception of Mary speaks to us of the reality which will helps us draw close to her son. May our hearts grow like Mary’s in trust of God the Father, and we offer thanks to the Father for the gift of Mary our Mother, and through her tender maternal intercession may we grow firm in our everyday “yes” witnessing to her Son Jesus Christ, our Lord and Saviour.
Fr. Sione Hamala