Recently in the sermon for the First Sunday in Advent Fr. Duncan told the story of Bafana, a woman who on a busy day encountered the three wise men on their way to Bethlehem. However she was too caught up in the tasks at hand and missed the opportunity to go with them and find the King new-born is a stable. The story goes that Bafana was destined throughout history to go from house to house and implore: “Good people, the bells begin! Put off your toiling and let love in.” That is our invitation tonight by this Rorate Mass to put off distractions and focus wholeheartedly on what is important. Mary the Mother of Hope in Advent leads the way to let love in.
We listen to the encounter of Mary with the Angel Gabriel. Unlike Bafana Mary turned her attention to the Divine messenger and her response in faith was wholehearted, undivided, total. Blessed Pope John Paul said that at the Annunciation in Mary there opened up a new and sacred space into which God could pour every spiritual blessing, giving us the gift of his Son and fulfilling his promise of redemption.
Mary’s obedience in faith creates the new space for God in our world. Some say that the Angel came to Mary in the early morning and her ‘Yes” to God’s plan of love was to bring the new Dawn. Gabriel is sent to a little town that was unknown. It probably had around forty houses at that time. Perhaps between 100-150 inhabitants, In unexpected places, we are called by God. God comes to meet us where we are. Every place is sacred. Every place can become a place of encounter between God and his people. When Mary said “yes” – she became a vessel and instrument of God’s grace. When we say “yes”, we too become a vessel and instrument of God’s grace.
Advent is our chance to change focus and look on what is important in life – we look forward to the birth of our one true Saviour. Mary was to carry this Wonder Councilor under her heart and bring him to all those who opened their heart to God. Elizabeth was to say prophetically “Blessed are you because you believed”… Mary changed her life through her act of total entrustment to God and his Plan of love. She was then to take on the new role described in the Second Vatican Council’s document on the Church, Lumen Gentium
“By decree of divine providence which determined the incarnation of the Word to be the Mother of God, the Blessed Virgin was on this earth the virgin Mother of the Redeemer, and above all others and in a singular way the generous associate and humble handmaid of the Lord. She conceived, brought forth and nourished Christ. She presented Him to the Father in the temple, and was united with Him by compassion as He died on the Cross. In this singular way she cooperated by her obedience, faith, hope and burning charity in the work of the Saviour in giving back supernatural life to souls… she is our mother in the order of grace.”
Fr Kentenich always described Mary as the associate and helpmate of Christ in his entire work of redemption. He was keen to let us know that Mary never retires from this role nor gives up completing this task. In a world which no longer functions as the Christian co-educator of our children it is all the more important to turn to Mary as the Woman of the Gospel who educates us in the image of her Son. Both by example and in active support in our lives Mary teaches us how to give that wholehearted response in faith. She said her ‘Yes’ for the whole of creation. God could come again into friendship with our world. Love is on the way. As our mother who educates us in the faith and through our bond of love to her in the Covenant we too can give a wholehearted and undivided “Yes” to the shelter seeking Lord when he knocks on the door of our hearts. Love is on the way . We wait in hope and long in love for the coming of the Saviour.