And Mary said:
“My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord;
my spirit rejoices in God my savior.
For he has looked upon his handmaid’s lowliness;
behold, from now on will all ages call me blessed.
The Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.” (Lk 1:46-49)
Rejoice in the Lord always. I shall say it again: rejoice! (Phil 4:4). As I write these words, we have just celebrated the Third Sunday of Advent, know as Gaudete Sunday. The rose vestments and candle on the Advent wreath remind us that the Lord is near. And therefore, there is always cause for rejoicing. As I write I am also cognizant of the fact the for the second year, as we celebrate Christmas, the global pandemic continues to upend our lives on so many levels. People are weary. So many are suffering terribly. Injustices continue to be unveiled. And in our ever increasingly polarized society, the proverbial “peace on earth” declared by the angels seems elusive. Given all of this, how do we rejoice?
As Mary proclaims that her “spirit rejoices in God (her) savior,” she is experiencing anything but tranquility in her life. She has only recently encountered the Angel Gabriel, who announced to her that she would conceive a child by the power of the Holy Spirit. And that this holy child would be the Son of God. How did she explain this to Joseph? What were her neighbors in Nazareth saying about her? Mary, frightened and overwhelmed, said to the angel, “How can this be?” Yet in all of this, Mary trusted in God’s faithfulness. Even amidst the turmoil, she knew a deep, abiding peace in knowing that God was with her.
In the tumult of our world and our lives, may we open wide our hearts to the Prince of Peace whose nativity we celebrate. We celebrate the birth of Jesus not only as an historical event, but as a present reality. Right now, right here, He is Emmanuel, God with us. So let us rejoice!
Yours in Christ Jesus,