Mary had a Little Lamb…Oh, yes, she did!

Tanner's annunciation

Artist Henry Tanner’s “Annunciation” (1898). Beautiful depiction of a young Mary…

This Advent, participation in a consecration to Mary has me thinking of Mary’s Advent…her waiting for her beautiful baby boy, who would also happen to be her long awaited Messiah.  Back then, there were no gender reveal parties!  Mary knew, by faith, through the angel Gabriel that she was definitely having a boy, and that his name was definitely Jesus.  Sorry, all bakers who were waiting to bake the blue or pink gender reveal cakes…:( We are taking this one on faith, not ultrasound!

In Luke 1:38, Mary’s simple response to the angel Gabriel, assisted God in bringing Jesus into a world suffering and in desperate need of a Savior.  Listen to how Mary responded at the Annunciation:

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.” (New American Bible:  The Catholic Study Bible)

What would you have done as a teenager if you had seen an angel of the Lord who revealed such large truths about your life?  I have two teenagers…I have a thought that they would start talking in similes that are inappropriate.  Here’s how it might have gone:

Teenager 1’s Response:  …glancing up from iphone, then glancing back down:  “You want me to do what?  Psh…you might not have gotten the address wrong…” (uncontrollable giggle ensues)

Teenager 2’s Response (this is where the simile comes in…):  “OK, like I need to know if this is like real or not…Like it is so big and I am just not sure…I am going to like have to call my mom, and like see if she knows like who you are, and like what you are asking…”

OK…let me start by saying this *might* be an exaggeration.  My two teens are incredible young women of faith.  However, in my own 80’s teenage voice, I would be right there with them!

The Annunciation was an incredible moment with a young teenage girl, who had been preparing her heart as a faithful Jewish teen.  This floors me.  It further floors me that her most chaste spouse, St. Joseph, said yes as well.  These are not modern day actions.  These are actions that transcend the choices of today, even though we are called to the same types of yes’s.

We are called everyday to die to ourselves so others may have life, and have it abundantly.  I think of all the young people going to the March for Life in January. These young people, my daughters included, are speaking for the voiceless…they are living their lives in a way that dies to the very desires society calls them to, and instead take up the cross which leads them to Jesus, and the truth.  And they are doing it for others first.

Henry Tanner's "Mary"

Henry Tanner’s “Mary”

We are called to take up the cross of Christ.  This is a cross of suffering, but maintaining happiness, knowing that our Savior, Jesus Christ died on that very cross before we ever had to pick it up.  What happened over 2000 years ago happened for us and for future generations of us’s!  Our Mother Mary’s YES was the open door for this to happen.  So taking up the cross of Christ requires a lively faith, just like Mary had at the Annunciation.  It also requires us to ride our donkey’s into Bethlehem.  It requires us to be a little uncomfortable, for the sake of holiness.  It requires us to live the formula of JOY:  Jesus first, others next, yourself last.

We are called each day to live our faith, in ordinary ways.  I think how most adults work…We are required to be Catholic Christians at work…I think of how I have beautiful female friends who are mothers who stay at home…We are required to be Catholic Christians in the home…I think of our religious brothers and sisters, and our priests…We are required to be Catholic Christians in the church.  I think of our handsome men of God, called to be Catholic Christians in their vocations, especially husbands as they wrestle with the idea of loving their wives as Christ loved the church.  This call is to live radically different from the world.  It is a constant presence of Jesus in our hearts and then the action honoring that reality.

Here’s a cool fact:  The Savior of the world was from humble beginnings, starting with His Mother’s YES.  Think of Mary’s Advent during this season of our Liturgical year.  Walk her road to Bethlehem, ultimately leading her to the stable, where the King of Kings was born, amidst the donkey, the lamb, etc. (I wonder if they had chickens?).  I wonder if she was frightened.  I wonder if her mother told her what labor felt like.  I wonder if she worried about keeping Jesus warm.  I wonder how it felt to swaddle Jesus and rock the Savior of the world.

Right now, our creches are empty in the Wallace household.  We are anxiously awaiting the baby Jesus.  There is something different in our home.  I pray there is something different in our hearts…as I sing in my heart, “Mary had a little lamb…”  Of course, I am also singing “O Come O Come Emmanuel!,” and other highly theological songs…but I am mostly praying for a lively faith, just as Mary had at the Annunciation.

3 Strategies to having a lively faith:

1.  Turn to our beautiful Mother Mary for examples of how she lived her faith in her daily life.  Her YES is a beautiful place to start.  Reading, re-reading, and even journaling about Luke chapter 1 is a great place to start for Advent.

2.  Make conscious choices to live your faith in ordinary ways throughout the day.  For example, unplug from technology, and plug in to what is going on in your home, offering it all up to Jesus for the holiness of your family.  Pray before meals.  Be present to your colleagues at work.  Pray the Prayer of St. Francis…ask for forgiveness.  Forgive someone.  Sing throughout the day.  Offer all of your work to the glory of God’s name.

3.  Go to Adoration and listen for the whisper of the voice of Jesus.  Remember, He doesn’t speak in the earthquake or the wind, but the whisper.  Be quiet, and just listen.

Peace of Christ to you!

Mary

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