Time is a funny thing. For many of us who live and work by the academic calendar it seems that the school year has just begun. However, the cooling temperatures and the smell of roasted turkeys remind us that we are indeed heading quickly into winter and Advent is upon us.
Advent for me is a time to start over. As the beginning of a new liturgical year and a preparation for the great feast of Christmas, it is an opportunity to pause - an opportunity to consider how God is calling me to grow deeper in love with God and God's people - a time to reflect on God's activity in my life and in the world around me so that I might discern how I am called to respond.
My thoughts also turn to Mary. Mary, the young peasant of Nazareth, whose relationship with God was so intimate that God could take root in her very being. Mary, who sang of God's justice in her Magnificat. Mary, who nurtured the life of God that was growing within her and shared this life with the world. What can I learn from her this Advent season?
One of my favorite quotes, especially this time of year and through the Christmas season, is from Meister Eckhart who stated, "We are all meant to be mothers of God. What good is it to me if this eternal birth of the divine Son takes place unceasingly, but does not take place within myself? And, what good is it to me if Mary is full of grace if I am not also full of grace? What good is it to me for the Creator to give birth to his Son if I do not also give birth to him in my time and my culture? This, then, is the fullness of time: When the Son of Man is begotten in us."
Our world is crying out in need of peace, compassion, mercy and justice. This is the world into which we are called to nurture the presence of God. One look at social media sites and news headlines or a few minutes listening to NPR gives us just a glimpse into how badly our world needs us to be the people God has called us to be - people of peace and compassion, mercy and justice - people who live and sing the Magnificat in all we do. What better time than Advent to let this be our prayer and to let that prayer spur us into action?
The first Sunday of Advent also marks the beginning of the global celebration of the Year of Consecrated Life. This year marks the 50th anniversary of the Vatican II Decree on the Adaptation and Renewal of Religious Life, Perfectae Caritatis. Therefore, Pope Francis has designated the Year of Consecrated Life to celebrate the life given to our Church and world in the past 50 years by consecrated men and women, to look towards the future of consecrated life with hope and to live the present passionately.
For many years consecrated women and men have responded to the needs of our world in ways that are prophetic and based in the Gospel. Let us continue to give thanks for the witness of those who have paved the way for us. And let us take some time during Advent to consider our role now and into the future in nurturing the loving presence of God in our world. Let us be the Magnificat people we are called to be - both now and into the future!