22 December 2005

Mary's hymn, her homily...

4thWeek of Advent (Thurs): I Sam 1.24-28; Luke 1.46-56
Fr. Philip N. Powell, OP
St. Albert the Great Priory, Irving, TX

Herald, immaculate vessel, handmaid, most blessed among women, bearer of the Word, preacher of God’s grace, Mother of our salvation! At the invitation and assurance of the angel, Gabriel, Mary submits herself to the work of the Lord in her and becomes her Son’s first disciple, the first preacher of the gospel.

Our Blessed Mother preaches with a hymn of praise while visiting the mother of John the Baptist. Elizabeth tells Mary that her child, John, leapt in her womb at the sound of Mary’s voice, and Elizabeth blesses Mary. Both Mary and Elizabeth are blessed because the Lord took their trust and made them wondrous signs of His power and favor. Elizabeth, barren with age, and Mary, a virgin, are both pregnant—one with the herald of the Christ and the other with the Christ Himself.

Mary’s hymn of praise, her homily of thanksgiving to the Lord is more than a pious exaltation, more than an explosion of devotional feeling. Mary’s hymn, her homily is a potent witness, an authoritative proclamation of Who the Lord Is for us, Who the Lord Will Be for us always. Mary’s witness is not just about the miracle of her virginal womb giving life to the Christ Child; her witness is about the constant presence and work of God in His creation from Day One, about the enduring love and forgiveness He has shown His people since their creation. Mary’s hymn, her homily is a sung testament to all those moments in human history where the Lord has put His hand into events and shaped them, put His hand into our time for our benefit—to call us back, to call us forward, to call us away from rebellion, despair, anxiety, sin.

Mary’s hymn, her homily is a sung record of salvation history, more than just a recitation of events, it is a lyric, a poem to the unfolding plan of God for us—one moment in a particular time to reveal all time to us. Mary reveals a divine attitude, a divine vision for all creation, all human life. Her intimate contact with the Spirit of the Lord has exalted her soul, magnified her spirit—enlarged, expanded, widened, made great her understanding of His plan. He is mercy, strength, justice, abundance. He is merciful, strong, just, generous. He wipes away our sins, defends the weak against the strong, balances debt and forgiveness, distributes freely everything that is good, holy, true, and beautiful. Our Lord is All: all we need, all we want; everything we have or can be is His. With gratitude we will lay claim to His legacy for us, and we will flourish in the blessings that flow from our humility.

Advent is a season of promises, made and fulfilled. The promise of the coming of the Lord: the promise made to Abraham and the promise fulfilled in Jesus of Nazareth. Mary took the word of an angel that her virginal womb would bear a son, the Savior promised by the Prophets. Elizabeth, barren in her old age, also believed a promise and gave the world Christ’s herald. These last few days of Advent are days of promise, the expectation—the sure knowledge—that our Father will be with us, Emmanuel, Mighty God, Merciful King. At the fulfillment of His promise, we can sing with our Blessed Mother: “Our souls proclaim the greatness of the Lord; our spirits rejoice in God our savior!”

Greet our Savior in his mother’s womb, in his manger, on the mountain, in the desert, greet him on the sorrowful way, on the cross, greet him and thank him for keeping his advent promise, his promise of mercy. Then, then we are mighty witnesses, authoritative testaments to the power and favor of our God in our lives. Sing your witness! Don’t whisper. Proclaim your promise! Don’t mutter.
Make known the mercy God has done for you.

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