There is something mysterious about Advent and something of the season conveys the invitation to enter into the quiet and depth of God. The characteristics of Advent – serenity, humility, and patient waiting – stand in contrast to our modern culture. In this way, Advent issues a powerful reminder that the ways of God are unique and challenging.
Along with the characteristics of Advent are the memorable characters we meet in the Scripture readings: John the Baptist, the greatest of prophets and the bridge between the testaments of our faith; Joseph, the humble and quiet man of faith whose openness to the message of Gabriel begins his journey as the guardian of the redeemer; and Mary, the Mother of God whose “yes” to God’s will ushers in a new beginning and era of restoration for God’s people.
In reflecting on Mary in Scripture for Advent – and in particular the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe – we recognize that Mary is a woman of solidarity and accompaniment.
In the familiar story of the Visitation, Mary enters into solidarity with her cousin Elizabeth in celebrating the goodness of God. The story of Guadalupe and the appearance of the Virgin to Juan Diego also expresses the importance of solidarity as Mary comes dressed in the native vesture of an oppressed people.
There is one Advent that stands out for me as a particular time of deep prayer, meaning, and transformation. It was my second year in seminary – many years ago – and I responded to God’s invitation to enter into Advent with intentionality and a commitment to spiritual growth.
Accepting God’s invitation to receive Jesus is essential for faith. This was the key to my fruitful Advent many years ago and the dynamic by which Mary’s “yes” to God brought forth the Incarnation.
We think of Lent as the season of metanoia – conversion of heart. Advent, too, is a season for transformation – preparing our hearts to receive the incarnate love of God. From this disposition of openness and receptivity to God’s love, we experience restoration and are more able to become instruments of the light and love that are central to the truth of Christmas.
As we prepare to celebrate the second half of Advent, God’s invitation to enter into the depth and meaning of the season remains.
These past several months I have been ministering in the area of restorative justice and healing. This work connects beautifully with the themes of solidarity and restoration which are at the heart of Advent and Christmas.
Together we pray: Come, Lord Jesus. Come and restore us once again.