When I was studying for my PhD in Theology, my mentor, Fr. Francis Martin, took great pains to portray the Gospel writers as some of the greatest theologians the church has ever seen. And over the years since then, I have come to see just how accurate Fr. Francis was.
In this special Advent issue, we want to look at the “Infancy Narrative” in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 1:1–2:52). At first glance, these two chapters appear to be a simple telling of the story of Jesus’ birth. However, when we meditate on them, we see that so much more is going on than a brief history lesson. Luke is using these stories to convey deep theological and spiritual truths.
For example, Luke goes out of his way to present Jesus as superior to John the Baptist. He wants us to know that in Jesus God is fulfilling all the promises he made through prophets like John. By comparing John to Jesus like this, Luke shows how a new age—a new covenant— has dawned and how we are all children of this new covenant.
Hail Mary! But Luke doesn’t stop with John the Baptist. He goes on to tell the story of a dedicated and sensitive young woman who is asked by God to raise his only Son. Actually, Mary is the lead character in these first two chapters. Luke portrays her as the perfect disciple, ready to say “yes” to anything that God asks. She ponders and treasures everything that God does in her, through her, and around her. She remained faithful to Jesus from his birth to his death. By focusing on the angel Gabriel’s joyful announcement to Mary and on Simeon’s prophecy to her of sorrow and suffering, Luke shows us how Mary embodies all the ups and downs of the Christian life—and embodies them perfectly.
This month, we want to look at the way Mary displays three key principles of faith: First, in her “yes” to the angel, Mary shows great trust in the Lord. Second, throughout her life, Mary shows us how she developed her spiritual instincts—her ability to sense God’s presence and his will. And third, in all the different parts of the Christmas story, Mary shows us how to recognize and accept the moments of grace that God offers to us every day.
May each of us learn how to be more like Mary during this Advent season. May we all learn how to carry Jesus in our hearts, just as she carried him in her womb. I hope, too, that this magazine will help you get ready to celebrate the miracle of Jesus’ birth on Christmas Day. From all of us at The Word Among Us, we wish you a happy and blessed Christmas. May God grant you abundant peace, overflowing joy, and a double portion of his love.