ADVENT REFLECTION--DAY 9: 8th December 2014
Advent and the Immaculate Conception
This beautiful reflection has been offered by sister Esther Suiko from the Phillipines and at this moment they are suffering the effects of a typhoon - please pray for all our SSHJM family there and all who are suffering. We pray through the intercession of Mary the Immaculate Conception that her Son Jesus will protect them and give them the strength they need at this time.
In every season of the liturgical year, there is something of great consequence to our human and Christian life that the Church would like to bring to our attention and consideration and this is connected with the theme identified with this season of ADVENT - waiting for God’s coming.
- The season of Advent underlines the fact that we human beings are incomplete, and will never find fulfilment in our life unless we have a personal relationship with God. It is a relationship that touches us from within to an extent that it influences the way we live our life, especially the choices that we make.
- This season also surfaces the truth that God is the one who comes to us. Our need and our search for God will never arrive at discovery of God, unless this God reveals himself to us. This is what the feast of Christmas means. God, in his wisdom and goodness, comes to us in a way and in the time he decides. This means that all we can do is prepare ourselves, ready ourselves, wait for his coming so that when he decides to come, we are there waiting.
- Christmas tells us that God has already come. God has already answered our need for him. However, he has gone up to heaven after the resurrection. Despite this, there are many ways in and through which we encounter him in our everyday life, thus allowing a personal relationship to continue and grow. He is surely present in the WORD OF GOD and in the sacraments especially the EUCHARIST. This sacrament constantly reminds us of the awesome vocation that we Christians have. When we receive the Eucharist we become part and parcel of Jesus. We become divinized. The other presence of Jesus is his presence in the voice of our conscience. The more we are sensitive to this voice, the clearer and louder it becomes. The more we do not pay attention and behave as if it is not there, the more jaded we become. So that when it rattles we cannot hear and feel it anymore.
- This Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, placed in the context of the Advent season, heightens the ideas of preparation and waiting. God Himself prepared for the coming of His Son by keeping Mary free from the stain of original sin which all human beings share with the first parents Adam and Eve.
Thus, if the Church asks us to prepare for the coming of the Son, we are shared a model - God Himself - preparing for His Son's coming. We can hereby say that when we faithfully prepare for the coming of Christ, whether it be the Parousia or His Birth, the act can be said to be divine in itself. We share with the Father this active desire to have for the Lord a ready place when He comes.
Of course waiting comes immediately with the thought of preparation. Preparation is actually an active stance of waiting. We wait for someone we know. And when we look at our experiences, there are times when we wait also for someone we consider important. And most of all, we wait especially for someone who said he will come. Our waiting reveals to us the value we give to the one we await for. The preparations we make as we wait show the joy we have for the one who will come. Our preparation as a sign of our waiting manifests our faith in the promise of his coming.
At Advent, we long for the One who can save us from our sinful world and sinful selves, and give us another chance to rebuild ourselves so that we too can save others, having learned from our own weaknesses and failures. Implicit in the Immaculate Conception is the plan of God, a promise of salvation through his Son--our Lord himself who told the apostles he will come again. We hold on to this with deep faith. At Advent, this faith is called to be reignited and fortified as it strengthens us in our waiting.
Mary’s prompt response of “YES” to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers. 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. God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the grace, strength, and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God’s promises and do you yield to his grace?
In the Immaculate Conception, we can see the love of God for us so evidently real as to renew everything despite all the sins we may have committed all our lives, and all the lives of men and women down the generations. Her “Magnificat” may also become our own song as we do all our preparations for the coming of God's only Son who comes to love and save us all.
May we be drawn closer to this one who prepared for His Son. We have seen his ways, the great love through which he did it. We are full of joy like Mary, and we do believe because Christ himself has said he will come again. When? Let it be In His Time. What matters for us is that we wait with deep longing, with deep joy and with deep faith. Indeed in the Immaculate Conception, faith, hope and love are all alive and real, giving us more life, more joy and more love to share.
On this holy day of the Immaculate Conception, let us keep a corner of silence in our hearts to meditate on the amazing beauty of this inexplicable event, the breaking in of a radically new life and light.
“Heavenly Father, you offer us abundant grace, mercy, and forgiveness through your Son, Our Lord Jesus Christ. Help us to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you our unqualified ‘yes’ to your will and to your plan for our lives.”
[Source: From a country who celebrates Christmas after 9 consecutive Dawn Masses (Misa de Gallo).]