4 Things Mary Taught Us During the First Advent
Advent is a time when we prepare our hearts to welcome Jesus. Although we observe this holy season every year, the question remains baffling: How can we adequately prepare for our Messiah, for the Word made Flesh who came into the world to save us? It’s a tall order, and we know that even the best preparation is only a pittance compared to what Jesus has done and continues to do for us.
The good news is that God can do amazing things with our pittance. When we approach Advent with faith, hope, and repentance, we can work toward making straight the path of the Lord (John 1:23). Plus, God has given us a wonderful model of the Blessed Virgin Mary to prepare for Jesus. During that first Advent before the birth of Jesus, Mary prepared with unmatched faith, grace, and love. Here are four things we can learn from her actions during the first Advent.
1. Be willing to say, “Fiat!”
When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary at the Annunciation, Mary was a young, unmarried woman. She was certainly a person of great faith, and her life was a holy one. But what God was asking her to do was unprecedented—and risky. It was scandalous for a young woman to be pregnant out of wedlock. Mary trusted, however, that God would make this remarkable event happen and sustain her through it. This trust allowed her to give her “Fiat” to God—“Let it be with me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).
2. Look for the little ways you can help others.
During the Annunciation, Mary learned of another miraculous pregnancy: that of her cousin, Elizabeth. Elizabeth was much older and was believed to be barren before she carried John the Baptist in her womb. When Mary heard about her cousin, she immediately left to help her. Journeying far away to help a relative would be a challenge for anyone, but it was especially challenging for a young, pregnant woman who had just received an extraordinary vocation from God. Yet Mary did not think of herself—her first thought was to help someone in need.
3. Glorify God in all you do.
Mary also taught us a great lesson about humility that first Advent. It would no doubt be tempting to puff yourself up a bit if you have just been given the news that you are to become the Mother of God. But Mary did just the opposite. She recognized that it was God who was working in her. Her understanding and sentiments are clear in the beautiful prayer of the Magnificat (Luke 1:46-55), when she said, “My soul magnifies the Lord” (Luke 1:46), and went on to proclaim, “For the Mighty One has done great things for me, and holy is his name” (Luke 1:49), and to praise all his works.
4. Make the best of what you have.
The familiar Christmas story tells us that there was no room for Mary and Joseph at the inn when it was time for Jesus to be born, and so Mary had to give birth to Jesus among the animals and lay him in a manger. This was certainly not an easy way to give birth and welcome the Messiah into the world. Yet Mary never uttered a word of complaint, and she made the site of Jesus’ birth into one we remember today in the beauty of the Crèche. Despite not having much, Mary persevered in faith and made the best of it, resulting in a gift that continues to this day.
This Advent season, may we follow Mary’s example of humble faith. As Mary bore the Incarnate Word, let us also prepare a place in our hearts to carry Jesus.