December 23, 2018 — Fourth Sunday of Advent
Our Blessed Mother takes center stage on this fourth Sunday of Advent, and fittingly so as we draw near to the celebration of her Son’s birth. After our Lord Himself, Mary is our model and guide to a stewardship way of life. We see her steward’s response in every passage of Scripture that relates to her, from her “yes” at the Annunciation, to her faithfulness at the foot of the Cross.
Mary’s response to the angel Gabriel in our “Alleluia” today captures her stewardship spirit: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word (Lk 1:38).” At the moment of the Annunciation, Mary recognized God’s gift to her and made a generous and trusting return to Him, offering her very self to God as His servant. This reply to such an overwhelming request — made by an angel, no less — shows us how extraordinary our Blessed Mother is. She is indeed “full of grace.”
But her response also displays the depth with which she possessed of two of the pillars of stewardship, Formation and Prayer. Because of her formation (in her own Jewish faith) she knew that a Messiah had long been prophesied and promised to her people. Because of her intimacy with God in prayer, she was ready to offer her “yes” to Him when asked to be mother of this Messiah.
Today’s Gospel passage, also from Luke, goes on to describe Mary’s actions immediately after her “yes” to the angel Gabriel’s message. We read that “Mary set out and traveled to the hill country in haste to a town of Judah… and greeted Elizabeth.” Mary immediately begins to think of others before herself, setting out quickly to be with her cousin, modeling two other of the pillars of stewardship, Hospitality and Service. What warmth and humility the Mother of our Savior shows, traveling to Elizabeth to spend time with her, rejoicing with Elizabeth over her own incredible pregnancy, and assisting her in a time of need. And what joy this hospitality and service brings to Elizabeth who exclaims, “how does this happen to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy.”
How beautifully our Blessed Mother models the mind and heart of a steward. It is an example that we, her children, can follow in our own lives 2,000 years later. With all the gifts God gives us — our time, our talents, our material possessions — we, too, can offer ourselves to God by using all these gifts to serve and glorify Him. In so doing, we will effectively to spread the Good News of the Gospel to the world around us today. We will be stewards after our Mother’s own heart.