Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,
The Scripture readings this week have us journeying with Mary.
There’s an important pattern in Mary’s life that’s meant to set the course of every Christian life: She received the Word of God, nurtured His life in her flesh and brought Him forth for the salvation of the world. If we’re going to keep Christ in Christmas — and we should! — then it’s important for us to think about how we can receive, nurture and bring forth the life of Christ in our own lives.
In quiet prayer, for example, we allow the Holy Spirit to overshadow our own hearts and minds. In the Eucharist, we receive the Body of Christ into our own flesh. In prayer with Scripture, we nurture the life of Christ in our minds and imaginations. In acts of service, we meet and serve Christ in others. In all the daily tasks of family life and work we can model our life on Mary: receiving, nurturing and bringing forth the life of Jesus.
Of course, the pattern called for Mary’s consent — it wasn’t something that just happened to her — and the same is true of us. We can receive Him, or refuse Him. We can nurture His life within us, or stunt its growth. We can bring Him forth for others, or keep Him to ourselves.
Mary was granted purity from the moment of her conception; then, with God’s grace, she preserved that purity her whole life through. Her purity led to the power of her consent, and the power of her consent led to the depth of her influence on the course of salvation history. We, on the other hand, need to rise to that purity by cooperating with the grace that God gives to us. As we grow in purity, the power of our consent grows. And as the power of our consent grows, we exercise ever deeper influence on lives of those we encounter. The world awaited Mary’s consent and received Christ through her. The world awaits our consent to receive Christ again through us!
On the morning of Dec. 24, we hear a reading about King David’s desire to build a Temple for God. By making that the last daily reading before Christmas, the Church intends to raise this question for our contemplation: Where will God dwell? The answer is God dwelt in the Temple, in Mary and in the manger. And what God wants, at the end of all that, is to dwell in us.
Keeping Christ in Christmas is a worthy goal, but it’s harder than it sounds! It’s not just a matter of keeping our focus on an event that happened long ago. It is that! But keeping our focus on the birth of Christ in Bethlehem is also meant to focus our own lives on receiving, nurturing and bringing forth the life of Christ in all we say and do.
Let’s commit to that Marian pattern of living — giving our consent on Christmas Day, and all the year through.