Mary, Humility and the Incarnation

Yesterday I had the opportunity to participate in a day of reflection with other employees of my diocese. The day was led by Sr. Renita Brummer, OSF, from the Chiara Center here in Springfield.

The theme of Sr. Renita’s reflections was “pregnancy” and its relationship to the mystery of the Incarnation. Mary, in becoming the mother of the savior, bore him in the womb and gave birth to the physical form of God on earth (which is why she is honored with the title Theotokos, or “God-bearer”). In doing so, “God became Man,” lived on Earth, suffered, died and was buried. After three days he rose and his earthly body was taken into heaven.

But we would be mistaken if we assumed that this great mystery was confined to the 33 years of Jesus’ life on Earth, ending with the Ascension. The Incarnation is an ongoing mystery, one we encounter in the Eucharist, the Church (which is, after all, the Body of Christ) and in our own lives. Sr. Renita’s question to us was simple: how are we being called to make Christ incarnate in the world today, in our lives?

You would think that, for someone working for the Church, this wouldn’t be such a hard assignment. But the truth is that I felt uneasy about any answers that came to my head. I decided that I needed to step back and ask a more basic question: what do I need to do to prepare myself for the task at hand? This brought me to Mary’s example; the brunt of my reflection for the day centered on Mary’s answer to the angel Gabriel: “May it be done to me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)

To receive the Savior, Mary prepared herself through humility and submission to the will of God. In giving her scent she made herself smaller so that Jesus could entered into her (both physically and spiritually); that is, she made room for the Christ in her life by seeking nothing but to do the will of the Father. Through her humility she was made worthy to receive the greatest of blessings.

My goal for the rest of Advent (and beyond) is to seek humility through prayer — to ask God to renew my heart and bring it more into conformity with his will. Today, the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, seems an especially poignant time to ask for humility through the intercession of the Mother of God and for the blessings of the Incarnation to be made more present in our lives.

Virgin of Guadalupe, pray for us!