Living In Hope: Mary

December 21, 2019

Advent and Christmas are my favorite seasons of the year.  They capture the very reason I hope in the first place. For the next 6 weeks of Advent and Christmas Retreat, we will be Living in Hope!  Each week, we will focus on one person or persons who helps us live in hope through reflection questions, suggested action, and prayer — including the text of the Sunday readings for easy access.

**Registration for the Online Busy Person’s Retreat, January 27-30, is OPEN NOW! This is the personalized, one-on-one retreat that comes to you and fits into your busy life! Register here

WEEK 4: Mary

Happy 4th week of Advent!  It’s hard to believe that we are in our final week of Advent and about to enter the Christmas Season.  

This week, our companion is Jesus’ mother, Mary.  To be honest, I did not fully understand Mary’s significance until I became a mother almost thirteen years ago.  When our son was placed into our arms, though, everything changed.  Suddenly, the miracle of Jesus’ birth and Mary’s role in it made sense.  

Can you imagine holding the Messiah, and rocking God made flesh in the form of the infant?  That is an image that gives me goose-bumps when I think about it.  

Mary helps us live in hope because of her “yes” to God.  Her “yes” opened the door to God becoming flesh. From his infancy, Mary noticed something unique about her son.  Later, she called Jesus forth to perform his first miracle at the wedding of Cana.  

Mary birthed the light of the world.  As we prepare to celebrate her son’s birth on Tuesday, I invite us to ask ourselves, “Where does God need our yes?” 

Reflection:

1.  What are you pondering in your heart right now?  What might God be inviting you to notice? 

2.  When have you leapt for joy at encountering Jesus in your world? 

3.  What is God birthing in your life right now?  Where is God inviting you to help Christ enter the world today? 

4.  Where does God need your “yes”?  How might Mary support you in having the courage to say “yes”?  

5.  How will you celebrate Jesus, the Messiah’s, birth?

Action:  Sing “Happy Birthday” to Jesus this Week

As a child, our Christmas Eve celebration on my dad’s side was not complete until we sang “Happy Birthday” to Jesus.  My great grandmother made a beautiful white star cake.  It was adorned with so many candles that it seemed the entire cake was on fire.  In the middle of our loud and joyful family Christmas celebration we would pause and sing “Happy Birthday to Jesus”.  

This tradition continues in our own family today.  While Grandma is no longer with us, every Christmas morning we place candles on whatever breakfast item we are eating, and we sing happy birthday.  It reminds me that, even though Santa came to our house, our cause for celebration is the birth of the light of the world that occurred so many years ago in the form of baby Jesus.  

How will you celebrate Jesus’ birth on Christmas day?  How might Jesus’ mother, Mary, want you to celebrate her son’s birthday this year?   

Praying with the Word of God:

The below Readings are from the Sunday Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent.  Pick one reading each day for prayer. Throughout the week, repeat the scriptures that capture your attention.

If you would like to pray with the daily readings this week in addition to the Sunday readings, the USCCB posts them daily here.

When praying with scripture, I invite you to try the prayer methods of Lectio Divina or Ignatian Contemplation. Here’s a one-page guide to Praying with Scripture and a handy Lectio Divina prayer card. 

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Reading 1: Isaiah 7:1-10-14

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask!  I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

Responsorial Psalm: Psalms 24:1-2,3-4,5-6

R. (7c and 10b) Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
The LORD’s are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.
R. Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
 
Reading 2: Romans 1:1-7
Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus,
called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God,
which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh,
but established as Son of God in power
according to the Spirit of holiness
through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship,
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Go Deeper?  

Inviting you Deeper as We Walk with Christ: 

Becky is an Ignatian-trained spiritual director, retreat facilitator, and writer. She is the author of the Busy Lives and Restless Souls (March 2017, Loyola Press) and The Inner Chapel (April 2020, Loyola Press). She helps others create space to connect faith and everyday life through facilitating retreats and days of reflection, through writing, and through spiritual direction. With nearly twenty years of ministry experience within the Catholic Church, Becky seeks to help others discover God at work in the every day moments of people’s lives by utilizing St. Ignatius’ Spiritual Exercises and the many gifts that our Catholic faith and Ignatian Spirituality provide.

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