The Holy Family by Fr. John Giuliani
Light your candle every time you pray in Advent. You may need to get more candles. That would be great. This common practice will unite us in the darkening days. Shine your light on social media using #HowWeHope as often as you need to feel the connection. You are not alone. The Lord is near. We are near.
Today’s Bible reading:
And Mary said:
“My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior, for he has been mindful of the humble state of his servant. From now on all generations will call me blessed, for the Mighty One has done great things for me—holy is his name. His mercy extends to those who fear him, from generation to generation. He has performed mighty deeds with his arm; he has scattered those who are proud in their inmost thoughts. He has brought down rulers from their thrones but has lifted up the humble. He has filled the hungry with good things but has sent the rich away empty. He has helped his servant Israel, remembering to be merciful to Abraham and his descendants forever, just as he promised our ancestors.”
More thoughts for meditation:
Mary is feeling it! After her cousin affirms what is happening in her, Mary exclaims this song of praise. This is all so surprising. They trusted that the Messiah would come to save them; they were waiting for him along with the others for hundreds of years. But through HER, right now? She’s just a young peasant girl from a little tribe. Why would God pick them? She is overcome by the honor. She is overcome by the irony that God chooses the weak to confound the strong, as the apostle Paul wrote to the Corinthians later. She is overcome by God’s mercy; that THIS is how God chooses to save the world: not through grand showings of force and intimidation by wealthy and famous people, but by indwelling the poor who have been waiting for him. She is overcome by hope that the world is about to change because God is making things right. This is a song of joy and justice. This is a subversive song about God’s love.
Mary reveals the generosity and humility of God’s essence and way of salvation. It is cosmic and personal. Transcendent and immanent. Big and little. Far and near. Mystical and physical. Mary can see it all held together in this moment, even in her own body. It is rather mind-blowing, but we try to reveal this incarnational way in our life together as a Circle of Hope, trusting God to make us the content, leading together in teams and trying to honor one another above ourselves. We meet in small groups for personal discipleship, and also in public in a larger forum on Sundays where everyone can get in on worshipping God together. Our compassion teams lead us to make practical change in the world, like providing food for those who need it and bailing people out of prison, and our mission teams lead us to devotional practices like prayer meetings. We want to experience and express the breadth and depth of God’s mercy, because we are all recipients of this mercy. It’s all part of the way that God is making things right.
Suggestions for action:
Take some time with your candle to worship God right now. When Mary sings “His mercy extends to those who fear him” she means that God’s grace is experienced by those who honor and worship and revere him. Take a moment to do that right now: to be in awe of this God who would come in such an unexpected way, not in worldly power but in vulnerability. What trust this baby has in us to care for him! Following him must be about coming to those who are hungry and waiting to be fed. Recognize that you are among those people right now, and be filled. Give thanks and praise as you hold your candle.