Fourth Sunday of Advent
Mary as Mediatrix of All Grace / O Clavis David
These late Advent days, we reflect on the Lord’s coming through the so-called ‘O Antiphons’ that highlight 7 titles for the Messiah’. We started with ‘O Sapientia (O Wisdom), O Adonai (O Lord), O Radix Jesse (O Root of Jesse). Today it’s O Clavis David (O Key of David).
The Key of David, the Incarnate-God, comes and unlocks the gate of our prison of sin and damnation.
God speaks. And we are not only expected to hear and listen but are also enabled to respond. God engages us in a dialogue. God empowers us through the gift of the Holy Spirit.
Part of listening is being attentive, and being willing and ready to respond. The response completes the dynamics of listening. Thus, listening involves a sense of mission, it involves a sense of communion- being with others. The response is not only an individual personal act, it always has a communal dimension.
Over the past few days, we went through various annunciations to people by the Lord’s angel and all were about the birth of a child. Today we have the most important of which all else prefigured – the Annunciation to Mary.
Only God speaks the creative word. Today however, in the Gospel reading according to Luke, we hear Mary’s words, “Let it be,” that echo God’s creative words, “Let there be.” which brought forth creatures into the world. After hearing and attentively listening to God’s message through the angel, Mary, fully empowered by the grace of God, responds, “Let it be according to your word” and her words effected the Incarnation of God’s Word. Mary’s personal response bears her assent to a mission to bring forth the Savior into the world.
This affirms the role of Mary as Mediatrix of all Grace- the God-elected channel through whom we receive not only particular graces but ‘all Grace’ – Jesus himself who gratuitously offered Himself up for our salvation.
Today, Mary shows us the key to unlocking the challenge to get our will to be one with God’s will. In her dialogue with the Angel of the Annunciation, Mary shows us how to spiritually go through various human dispositions or attitudes when God offers something.
Conturbatio (Disquiet) – the state Mary is in when Scripture tells us that she is greatly troubled. It is alright to be troubled. It is what we do next that matters.
Cogitatio (Reflection) – the state Mary is in when she listens to the words of the Angel. To listen allows us to let the plan of God unfold more clearly.
Interrogatio (Inquiry) – the state Mary is in when she responds. It is part of being responsible to assess the resources we have at hand but what is more important is to trust that God provides the means when He sends us out for something.
Humiliatio (Submission) – the state Mary is in when Scripture tells us that she offers herself as the handmaid of the Lord. Here hinges the real encounter, the union of the human and the divine will – in humble submission to the task at hand.
Meritatio (Merit) – the state Mary is in when she lives in humble acceptance of God’s call. Along with the task comes grace.
Interestingly, St. Luke placed this narrative in between the phrase ‘in the sixth month’ which refers to the time after the Archangel Gabriel visits Zacharias and the eventual Elizabeth’s own childbearing, thus, presenting the precise moment of Mary’s ‘fiat’ as so encapsulated in the reality around her.
As it was for her so it is for us, there is always a unique present moment, the time of invitation to enter into the project God lays out for us that is never an isolated time for it is so connected to the times of others. From that single moment on Mary took up a public personality for the good of all. She regarded herself as a servant of the Divine Will, using the title of Servant, Handmaid of the Lord. This title from the prophet Isaiah represents mission which is not a privilege, but rather a call to service to other people. Decades later Jesus will also define his mission as service: “I have not come to be served, but to serve!” He learned this from his Mother, who early on became first among all the other servants that would accompany Jesus in His mission!
As we end another Advent week of reflection on our day-to-day encounter with the Lord and on this fourth and last Sunday of Advent, we briefly transition to the 3rd Advent theme of the Lord’s coming – his first coming – His Nativity, may this look into Mary’s human dispositions and sense of mission become our own practice of spirituality to enhance a better awareness of God’s movement in our life and be the key that we let the Lord use to unlock our heart to welcome Him in.