Bishop's Column

Mary’s joy is found in Christ

Advent begins with Mary’s yes.  The angel of the Lord, God’s messenger Gabriel, appears to her and reveals God’s plan to her.  Mary will bear a son.  Her son will be the savior of the world.
Mary’s responds: “Be it done unto me,” she says, “according to thy will” – Fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum!
The whole of the Christian life can be found in Mary’s yes.  She has been redeemed, in her Immaculate Conception.  She has been called to a vocation, and seen the grace.   And, with courage, and trust, she simply says yes.
We spend our lives trying to imitate Mary’s yes. 
Too often, we’re consumed by our sinfulness.  We’re consumed by our selfishness, our desires, by the confidence we place in our own plan for our life.  We believe that we know best how to live our lives.  And, too often, we’re consumed by our fears.  We fear that saying yes to God will keep us from security, or fulfillment, or happiness.
As Pope Benedict said at the beginning of his pontificate, if we let Christ enter fully into our lives and say yes to God “we lose nothing, absolutely nothing of what makes us free, beautiful and great.”   
In Christ, we can be freed from sinfulness, and in Christ we can abandon fear.  In Christ, and through him, and for him, we can say yes to the Lord’s call in our lives. 
And in Christ, we can find perfect joy.
When Mary said yes to God’s plan for her life, she found something new: complete, true, and perfect joy.  And when we say yes to God, we can find it, too.
Boston College philosopher Peter Kreeft says that “Every time I have ever said yes to God with something even slightly approaching the whole of my soul, every time I have not only said “Thy will be done” but meant it, loved it, longed for it—I have never failed to find joy and peace at that moment. In fact, to the precise extent that I have said it and meant it, to exactly that extent have I found joy.”
Advent is the time to imitate Mary’s “yes” to the Lord.  And it is the time to be graced with the joy she found.  The truth is that real joy can’t come from pleasure, or material comfort, or from security.  Real, true, lasting, supernatural joy only comes from serving the Lord—from dying to ourselves and saying yes—as Mary did.
This Sunday, the Church celebrates “Gaudate Sunday.”  Gaudate is a Latin word that  means “rejoice!”  We are told by the Church to rejoice this Sunday.  And if we are to rejoice, it must be because we are serving God.  When Holy Mother Church tells us to rejoice, she reminds us that we must be willing to live God’s plan for our lives.
Last week, Pope Francis said that “You can’t imagine a Church without joy; and the joy of the Church lies precisely in this: to proclaim the name of Jesus.” We can be filled with unimaginable joy.  We can be filled with the grace of Jesus Christ.  Let us begin, in imitation of Mary, by saying yes to the Father.  Let us begin by proclaiming the name of Jesus Christ.

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