Reflection on Today’s Daily Readings by Fr. Bertrand Buby, SM
Scripture: Lectionary # 9: Third Sun of Advent C. Zeph.3:14-18. Isaiah
12:2-3.4.5-6. Phil. 4:4-7. Luke 3:10-18:
Even though John the Baptist is again giving us our Advent model for
preparing for the Messiah, it is Mary who is silently and humbly coming
upon the stage of salvation history as it is traced through the readings of
the liturgy for the Sundays of Advent. We also have been reminded of her
necessary presence through the recent celebration of the Feast of her
Immaculate Conception and of Our Lady of Guadalupe.
The first reading from Zephaniah is similar to the Angelic Salutation given
to Mary by Gabriel. She is told to Rejoice and that she is highly favored
by God's love and grace, hence, the special word used only for her as a
person in all of the Bible KECHARITOMENE. Several exegetes and scholars
have seen in the Daughter of Zion references of Zephaniah, Zechariah, and
Joel and, of course, in Isaiah our Advent Prophet that Luke pondered over
these prophetic announcement about Zion (central jewel of Jerusalem) and
probably used them to form his literary masterpiece on Mary in his
Annunciation narrative (Luke 1:26-38). Mary is now slowly but surely
becoming central to the mystery of the Incarnation which is the coming of
the Christ, the Messiah of the Virgin who is with child (Isaiah 7:14 as
interpreted by St. Matthew in Matt. 1:23).
John the Baptist is thus preparing the way not only for the Messiah but the
Mother of the Messiah by telling us to live up to our individual calling
and reponsibilities. In Mary we find someone who does that even though the
storms and trials of life will be quite dramatic for this young courageous
woman of faith and risk taking when it comes to the things of God. John
the Baptist continues to remind us of Jesus who is soon to appear in
salvation history while Mary already realizes this is happening right
within her womb. She is pregnant with the Son of God by the Holy Spirit
and is one of those "little ones" who is greater than John the Baptist in
being within the kingdom already even though the kingdom is within her and
is "not yet" in the world of real history.
Thus the readings that are alongside of the Gospel today are really a
backdrop for the entering center stage of Mary the Mother of Jesus. She is
the one who teaches us how to rejoice in the Lord, yes, rejoice (Gaudete
Sunday). She is blessed and always rejoices in the Lord. As we closely
look at the response from Isaiah in today's liturgy we realize it is
similar in spirt and meaning to Mary's own Magnificat. With her we are led
to praise God our Savior and to realize that we are among the "little ones"
aspiring to be in the kingdom of God as Mary is and always was. John will
now start to fade away as we move through this part of Advent and Mary will
be our leading light and star of the drama of salvation. Joseph, too, will
be her protector and always lead us to her. Soon the Word will take flesh,
but the Word is already flesh within her immaculate body whole and entire.
We may wish to realize this at the Eucharist when we hear the words, "This
is my Body...This is my Blood given up for you." Of course, she realizes
we are speaking of her Son. Yes, Advent is a time for seriously entering
into the portrait of Mary that the Scriptures give us. Amen.
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