Advent is a proverbial time of waiting with Mary in the darkness for the birth of the Christ Child. It is a time to silently listen in expectation. It is a time to  sweep away the clutter in our hearts and souls by simplifying our lives to make room for a re-birth in our own hearts for this child called Jesus.

I must admit, as a woman, I have an advantage over men. Since I was pregnant for two of my pregnancies during Advent, I can identify with the pregnant Mary in a deeper way. One Advent baby was born on Christmas Eve and the second, my youngest child, on Jan. 7, still in the Christmas season.

Since I was expecting our ninth child, we had just moved to our new farm with a much larger house. Our eldest had started high school while the next five attended a small Catholic school from junior kindergarten to grade 8.

 Waiting with Mary

One day in December, the  priest led an Advent reflection in the gym and asked the children,

"Who is waiting for  the birth of a new brother or sister this Advent?"

Five hands went up.

"Oh, my isn't this wonderful," the priest exclaimed, without really identifying each face, "So many of you are joining  Mary, waiting for the birth of a baby!"

Then a voice yelled out, "No Father, those are all Juneau kids with their hands raised!"

Mary and her Baby

 Mary must have experience what all mothers experience the moment Jesus was born, but I imagine her joy was even more profound as all the angels rejoiced around them. All women forgot the exhaustion and pain of labour the moment we hold our newborn. For me,  a surge of motherly love rose up in my heart combined with a sense of awe at the miracle of creation as I examined tiny, perfectly formed fingers and toes.

Mary and the Infant Jesus Bonded.

 Imagine Mary gazing into the eyes of the Incarnation and soaking in His love. Why, there is something about an ordinary baby's open, trusting gaze that literally draws love from us, never mind looking into the face of the Infant God. A newborn can see clearly for about 8", just far enough to focus intently on an adult's face. It is almost as if the initiative to bond comes from the baby first, especially when I consider their fierce hand grip they clutched fingers and clothing. To ensure mothers nurse, babies are  born with a powerful rooting reflex and a cry which literally triggers the let-down reflex for milk, soaking clothes if  mothers do not start nursing quickly enough.

Babies do not even have a sense of themselves apart from their mothers for the first year because their whole identities are intricately entwined with mum. I would think Jesus went through this same stage of development. No wonder Mary is the Mediatrix of All Graces;  she soaked in the love of God and simply allows it to flow through her to us.

Advent Prayer

God of power and mercy, open our hearts in welcome. Remove the things that hinder us from receiving Christ with joy, so that we may share his wisdom and become one with him when he comes in glory, for he lives and reigns with you and the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.

Copyright 2015 Melanie Jean Juneau