The end of the fiscal year will soon come to a close, in some countries the academic year has come to an end, others are about to do so, and so on, our life is one of closing some cycles and opening others; each stage is loaded with a myriad of experiences of all kinds. At the liturgical level the Church gives us the gift of a new Advent, and we are invited to make it an experience that renews our strength, like a glass of fresh water after a long journey under the sun.
Looking at the realities experienced this year in the different regions of the world, we contemplate truly hopeless panoramas: the issue of war, which seems to be a trite topic, but which continues to claim lives, causing anxiety and pain, the waves of tired and hungry migrants, the political situation in so many nations that curtails freedom, undermines the basic rights of millions of people, the aftermath of the Pandemic, the indiscriminate damage to our mother earth, to name a few.
For this reason, we are invited to rekindle hope. Although there are many texts written on this subject, on this occasion we could meditate with new eyes on some texts of the Evangelist Luke regarding the attitudes of the Virgin Mary and on the thought of the Brazilian educator and philosopher Paulo Freire.
Let us remember how Mary has given us proof of her hope. This young Nazarene, as a woman of her time, had experiences very similar to ours and even in the midst of them she knew how to listen to the word of God who spoke to her through mediation. The evangelist Luke makes it clear to us:
«In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee, called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; the virgin’s name was Mary. And he went in and said to her, «Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you. She was troubled at these words, and wondered what the greeting meant. And the angel said to her, «Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God; you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David» (Lk 1:26, 32).
When we look at Mary, we see her capacity to serenely welcome the bewilderment and continue the dialogue with the angel. Looking at ourselves, we could verify these same qualities and also ask ourselves: How do I encourage true listening to God, to what spaces do I allow him to enter? Perhaps I have established schedules, known patterns, but perhaps there are corners of my being where I have not yet invited him to enter?
«Mary answered the angel, «How shall this be, since I know not a man?» The angel answered her, «The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy and will be called the Son of God.» (Lk 1:34-35
For «precisely one who – like Mary – is totally open to God, comes to accept the Divine Will, even if it is mysterious, even if it often does not correspond to one’s own will» (Pope Benedict XVI, December 2012). Mary gives a response and as a consequence of this listening and availability she receives a mission that surprises her, unsettles her and she sets herself in motion:
«In those days Mary arose and went with haste into the hill country, to a city of Judah; she entered the house of Zechariah and greeted Elizabeth.» (Lk. 1:39-40)
Mary is a woman of active hope, she does not remain with her arms folded waiting to see what will happen. Regarding the hope that Mary brings to life, we could enlighten ourselves with the words of Paulo Freire:
«It is necessary to have hope, but to have hope from the verb, to hope; because there are people who hope from the verb to hope. And the hope of the verb to hope is not hope, it is waiting. To hope is to get up, to hope is to go forward, to hope is to build, to hope is not to give up. To hope is to carry forward, to hope is to join with others to do otherwise.»
Mary shows us that she is a woman of hope because she lived the verb to hope, rising up and putting herself at risk because of the state she was in walking towards the mountains of Judah, she went out in step with Elizabeth’s needs. And even more so in Herod’s persecution of the Child, she did not give up when she had to flee to Egypt (cf. Mt. 2:13-15).
Let us turn our eyes to Mary, we will find in her courage and strength. How can we live so that this Advent is not just another Advent, but one that brings us newness?
From the reality that surrounds us
In our daily chores
In our encounters with the Lord, with our brothers and sisters.
How do we give life to the verb to HOPE?
Sister Nancy Margoth Monterroso Monterroso. tc
Provincia Nuestra Señora de Guadalupe