CNEWA

ONE Magazine

The official publication of
Catholic Near East Welfare Association

Celebrating 50 years | God • World • Human Family • Church

Our Lady’s Advent

We honor Christ in honoring His Virgin Mother, and we honor her best by imitating her obedience, her faith and her patience in preparing for Christ’s coming.

Preparing again for the Nativity of the Lord we do well to reflect on the Virgin Mary who observed her first advent awaiting the birth of Jesus.

“At the message of the angel, the Virgin Mary received the Word of God in her heart and in her body, and gave life to the world.” With these words the Council Fathers describe the beginning of our Lady’s Advent. They remind us that the consent of the simple maiden of Nazareth gave life to a dead world.

Life was the gift most needed by a world mired in the selfishness of sin separating it from God, the source of life; a world that had responded to God’s hand stretched out in reconciliation by centuries of unfaithfulness, and of violated covenants.

In this maiden of Nazareth God found the response lacking in Israel. Because she alone did not share in man’s heritage of sin, she responded in loving faithfulness to become the gateway through which life returned to the world.

In Mary we find the perfect figure of Israel faithfully and obediently waiting fulfillment of God’s promises. She is also the figure of all the redeemed who, freed from sin by Christ, become like Mary a gateway through which life returns to the world.

For centuries Mary has been seen as a figure of the Church, the community which bears Christ within it, and is both redeemed by His presence, and helped in redeeming the world by making Him present in it.

This role which each Christian shares as a member of the Church we find well exemplified in Mary’s visit to Elizabeth. Without thought of herself Mary sets out on a long, tedious journey prompted by loving concern for her aging kinswoman who, as the angel had advised her, was also with child. So Mary became a missionary, the first Christian to carry the good news of redemption to another.

Upon her arrival at Zachary’s house, Elizabeth and the infant, John, in her womb respond to Mary and to the presence of Christ within her. Together they rejoice not in their own chosenness, but in the greatness of God who has sent life to the world.

Mary’s Advent occurred after the Word was made flesh. His mother was awaiting His birth when He would manifest Himself to a world needing redemption. This Advent of 1974 occurs in similar circumstances. The Word is made flesh, and dwells in our midst; yet, the world so desperately in need of redemption knows Him not.

At Christmas, despite the commercialism, He will still manifest Himself to the person who needs Him. The shepherds were summoned by a heavenly choir to come see the Lord; the Magi were led by a star to the place where He lay. They were drawn to seek Him, they saw Him and adored. At Christmas the world marks His birth; many are drawn to seek Him. Where will they find Him? Where will they see Him so that they may adore Him? Where, indeed, if not in His Church, if not in us as members of His community? Our advent must be like Our Lady’s. Like her we must unselfishly carry the good news of God’s redemption to others. Then, those who seek Him will see Him within us; seeing Him they will adore Him.

And together we will rejoice, not in our chosenness, but in the greatness of God who continues to give life to our world.

Mr. Steve Landregan, editor of “The Texas Catholic”, newspaper of the diocese of Dallas, has traveled widely in the Near East, and has been a special correspondent for NC News Service.

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