We have finally come to the 4th week of Advent, the last week of our preparation for the Christmas celebration. It has so far an unpleasant Spirit of Advent and is a very difficult time of the year for me. I personally didn’t prepare much for this Christmas and hence I don’t have much to say this season, and my reason is primarily because of how COVID-19 pandemic has slowed down many of our spiritual exercises these past 10 months.
In the 1st week of Advent itself, we have started to set up Crib and light up the Church compound with Christmas light. The Christmas Crib was placed at the main gate next to the Shrine of St. Joseph, the Worker. It is meant to make things easier more convenient for people to pay homage at the Crib and leave the Church at once. We placed the figurine of Mother Mary and Joseph inside the Crib on the day of Solemnity of Immaculate Conception of Mary, a day that our Holy Father, Pope Francis, inaugurated the Year of St Joseph – just to mark that day as a special day for us, and also a special year for all of us.
Fast forwarding, in 5 days’ time, we will be celebrating Christmas – celebration of the Word Made Flesh (Jn 1:14). In today’s Gospel (LK 1: 26-38), Mary has found favour with God. She has chosen to bear to God’s only begotten Son in her womb as she responded – “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to Your word.”
When we look at the life of Mary, we can imagine how tough she would have gone through her life when the child was conceived and how God’s Son was brought into the world. She was willing to take risk in her life and her own reputation to carry out the plan God had. Still a human, she was afraid and wondered how this plan but God affirmed her, “Do not be afraid!” Her faith in God’s plan was strong and constant, that she gave all of herself to His will. She was indeed the favoured one.
God’s favour came to Mary, because of her simplicity and humility. Through her faith and her “Yes” – the Word became flesh. This is indeed a great example that we can take after, and we need to be like more and more like this wonderful woman. We need to imitate her faith in God, by saying “Yes” in doing God’s favour in all things. Mary chose to submit to His plan by letting go of her own life, and so should we. More of God, Less of me. In choosing to do God’s favour, our prayers should be – “Here, I am Lord, I come to do your will.” Our willingness and submission to the will of God will open for us, the Grace of God.
As we look closely at the Mother Mary and her response to God’s favour, our faith requires this ongoing submission to God’s plan and conversion of our hearts. So from now, till Christmas day, let us take a closer look at the life of Mary and how she has responded to God’s invitation and wills, throughout her life as we know.
We need to really understand Christmas during this COVID-19 pandemic. It is not how we want to spend on Christmas but rather how are we going to spend Christmas with our families. The holiday season is here and it is very good idea if we stay in, and spend that quality time with our loved ones. With the spirit of humility, let us pray that God’s favour comes upon us as we say – “not my will but yours” and cooperate with His plan by saying “Yes” to Him.
Rev. Fr. George Packiasamy