The Gospel message for the last Sunday of Advent is that, through Mary, God took up residence in human flesh.
It is a message, the fulfillment of which is recorded in the Gospel of Christmas day. "And the Word became flesh and made His dwelling among us!" The actual term used in this case literally means "pitched his tent." And it speaks of Godís intention to dwell with us in our ordinary dwellings and in our human flesh.
Though there is a place for magnificent churches such as this cathedral, God would have us first realize that Divinity walked around in our midst in human skin. And in a very real sense continues to do so.
This message as first given to Mary has inspired countless artists. Most images are of angelic serenity with Mary full of grace and joy. But this event also contains an undercurrent of distress and confusion ...even of potential scandal. One artist, for example, portrays Mary sitting on the edge of her rumpled bed concerned and perplexed ...her life turned upside down.
Talk about throwing a monkey wrench into the plans of a young girl in the midst of planning her wedding!
Think about it. A small country village ...no newspaper, just hearsay and gossip. Everyone knows that she is legally betrothed to Joseph and not yet living together.
What will they say ...what will Joseph say ...not to mention her parents?
The angel, Godís messenger, assured Mary that through her God would bring forth blessing, holiness and salvation.
In spite of not knowing how in the world God will accomplish all this, Mary puts all her trust in God, bows her spinning head and accepts what she was graced to assume as somehow being Godís holy will.
In so doing Mary opens a space for God to dwell within her ...enabling the Divine to take the first step in making a new home within all of mankind.
Do not miss the strong Eucharistic imagery in this story. True this is primarily Jesusí and Maryís and Josephís story but it is also our story. It is the first chapter in the story of Holy Communion.
In a few minutes you will receive into your body the body and blood of Maryís son, Jesus ...God will pitch His tent in you.
No wonder we refer to her as OUR Blessed Mother and to ourselves as brothers and sisters in Christ.
Never let this miracle of Grace become, for you, empty ritual. Never allow it to be overshadowed by the cares, fears, expectations and demands of this world. Rather, like Mary, let it define you.