“At Christmas we celebrate the coming of God into the world. We look especially at His birth at Bethlehem and we see how that birth reveals to us the infinite mercy of God. But at the same moment we return to the very beginning of all. The generation of the Word in the bosom of the Father is also present to us, and we go forward to the end of all when, having come again into the world at the Last Judgement, and taken all things to Himself, and made all things new, we ourselves will share, by glory, in His divine and eternal sonship and hear the voice of the Father saying to us, in Him: “This day I have begotten thee.” ~Excerpted from “Seasons of Celebration” by Fr. Thomas Merton
Monday, December 21, 2015 ~ Fourth Week in the Season of Advent
Saint Peter Canisius, Priest and Doctor of the Church
Holy Gospel: Luke 1:39-45 Mary set out in those days and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah, where she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth. When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting, the infant leaped in her womb, and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, cried out in a loud voice and said, “Most blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Meditation: How does Mary respond to the word of God delivered by the angel Gabriel? Does she post the occasion on Facebook and wait for a “what should I do?” response from her “friends?” Does she post the occasion on her blog or send a shotgun text message or e-mail blast out to everyone asking “what should I do?” Does she take a selfie with the angel, post it on Instagram and say “look who came to visit me!” Did she contact her attorney and ask to have a contract drawn up outlining specific responsibilities of both parties, perhaps including a force majeure clause? Does she consult with her accountant to see if there are any financial liabilities she may not be aware of? No, not at all, as Mary was a true woman of faith who had a deep understanding of sacred scripture and of God. With great simplicity, love, faith and humility, and without pause or hesitation, and being a hearer of the Word, she immediately responds with great faith and trust in God’s messenger – the angel Gabriel – and in God himself. Mary’s prompt response of “yes” to the divine message is a model of faith for all of us as believers and as people of faith. Mary believed God’s promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God’s will, even if it seemed difficult or costly. Mary is the “mother of God” because God becomes incarnate when he takes on flesh in her womb. Jesus, whom the Father sent from heaven, is true God and true man.
Prayer: O God, who for the defense of the Catholic faith made the Priest Saint Peter Canisius strong in virtue and in learning, grant, through his intercession, that those who seek the truth may joyfully find you, their God, and that your faithful people may persevere in confession you. Through our Lord Jesus Christ, your Son, who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
Contemplation: The new era of salvation begins with Mary’s “yes” and the miraculous conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. This child to be born is conceived by the gracious action of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, who finds favor with God (Luke 1:28). As Eve was the mother of all humanity doomed to sin, now Mary becomes the mother of the new Adam who will father a new humanity by his grace (Romans 5:12-21). This child to be conceived in her womb is the fulfillment of all God’s promises. He will be “great” and “Son of the Most High” and “King” and his name shall be called “Jesus” (Luke 1:31-32), which means “the Lord saves.” “He will save his people from their sins” (Matthew 1:21). The angel repeats to Mary, the daughter of the house of David, the promise made to King David: “The Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end” (2 Samuel 7:12-16, Isaiah 9:6-7, Luke 1:32-33).