“Prepare the way of the Lord” (Matt 3:2).
The annual calendar and the liturgical calendar put the Second Sunday of Advent and the Feast of the Immaculate Conception on the same day this year (though the Marian feast will be officially celebrated on Dec. 9). The coincidence holds some important perspectives for all of us. Mary’s role was to model for all the baptized their vocation to conceive and bring to birth in their lives the mystery of Christ in the flesh, in the world. Mary’s freedom from original sin is really about the Incarnation — God in the flesh and in the world -- reaching back in time to signal the new dispensation of grace, preparing creation for life in God, with God.
It is a dream placed within every heart, that we will together overcome the fear and selfishness that have so ruined history with violence and oppression. It the dream of being in right relationship with everyone and everything — with ourselves, one another, the natural world and God. It is the promise that love overcomes death. Every loss, every tear shed, every incomprehensible kind of suffering will be gathered up and given meaning by the life, death and resurrection of Christ, not only by Jesus, our pioneer and older brother, but by all of us who have been incorporated into him at baptism, called to make our own lives that same perfect sacrifice of praise he offered to redeem the world.
What Mary believed and lived is the same mystery we celebrate in Advent. What John the Baptist and Jesus preached – the coming of the reign of God — is both here and not here, now and very soon. The Advent heart leans forward in hope, lives in expectation of something that is still unfolding, still inviting our participation to make happen. This is our time to be the body of Christ extended in time, transforming our communities, culture, social structures and national policies to reflect the goal God has set for a struggling humanity bound for glory. ”Let justice flourish in our time, and fullness of peace forever” (Ps 72).