In the best of times Christmas warms our hearts with love. In the midst of the hustle and haggling of the season, even the news is peppered with nostalgic tales of loving-kindness expressed to strangers at Christmas. Hearts seem to grow warmer, not wanting anyone to miss out on the joy of feeling important during the Christmas season.
Mother Teresa said the greatest poverty in the world is the lack of love. Our world certainly can use all the love we have to give. As we move into the second week of Advent, the focus is on love. It is the Bethlehem candle. Bethlehem cradled the Love sent to the entire world.
Mary is a perfect example of human love. Her example calls us to the greatest love human hearts can hold. It is love of God. Mary demonstrated her love for God so fully in her response to the angel’s bizarre assignment that she had been chosen to become the mother of Jesus. Unlike her Uncle Zechariah, she simply said, “I am the Lord’s servant.” Her childlike faith is anchored in her great love and trust in God. Daily, she had opened her whole heart, mind and spirit to God. She intuited that He is loving, good and kind, even if His ways were beyond her own understanding.
How much do you love God? Are you willing to risk it all out of love for Him like Mary? Are you willing to be embarrassed for Him? Is your love for God the driving force behind the reason you do what you do? There is no greater way to show your love for God than to give your will over to Him. Love for God is surrender.
Love for God is the most powerful emotion anyone can express. It is healing and gives healing to others. When we give our love fully and devotedly to God, as Mary did, our souls find our purpose.
Thomas Keating described the love Mary showed this way: “To do God’s will is to lose one’s own separate identity. To consent to the fact of God’s interior presence is to know where you came from and where you are going. It is to know who you are. Do you consent to become divine? That is the question asked of us today. The second question is more concrete. Will you consent to express me, your God, in your body? That is scary! To be God in everything we say and do and are! Such is the radical consent that our Lady gave.”
As I wait for Christmas this advent, I am challenged by the weakness of my love. I know that I will never express the love I was created to know until I focus my love completely on God the way Mary did. Loving God transforms me. It gives me courage to do things for which I am not capable. It enables me to forgive, to wait, to believe, to hope.
As I wait for Christmas, I want to grow more and more in love with God who sent His Son Jesus to live as one of us, to die and to rise again so that our love can last for eternity. I want to love God above myself, my relationships, my dignity, my family, my future dreams just like Mary.