As we near the end of the Advent season and prepare to enter the final days before Christmas, we turn our attention to Luke’s account of Mary’s preparation for the birth of Jesus. Mary expresses shock, joy, confusion, and acceptance as she hears the news from the Angel Gabriel. These emotions expressed by Mary give us a more personal sense of the human birth story that we are about to celebrate.
What is striking is how Mary ponders what she has just learned. How does this aspect of Mary’s personality help to shape Jesus as he grows up, and the manner in which he refuses to act rashly and conventionally through many of the situations he is confronted with in his ministry? Her pondering and respectful questioning in the face of a very confusing and challenging situation contrasts greatly with the belligerence displayed by Ahaz in the first reading. Ahaz is certain that he knows what is right and refuses to consider the new ways that God may be calling him in his life. Perhaps we also have to let go of this stubborn resistance that Ahaz displays as we prepare ourselves during this holy season of Advent, as we prepare ourselves for the coming of the Lord. And perhaps we need to embrace and emulate the way that Mary is able to ponder the challenges that confront her. What are some of the ways that we can more fully be like Mary, the handmaid of the Lord? Perhaps this echoes the sentiments expressed by the psalmist, and perhaps this will help us emulate Mary’s example of faith: Let the Lord enter, let us not seek what is in vain, let us seek the face of the Lord, let us recognize that he is king.