We continue our Advent journey of preparation and expectation of the birth of Jesus. But have you ever realized that Jesus wants to be born in you?
Jesus wants to be born in us!
There are 2 figures which point us towards this reality today:
1.) John the Baptist (from the Gospel for the 2nd Sunday of Advent; Matthew 11.2-11) came proclaiming the coming kingdom, a kingdom which we hear about from the prophet Isaiah(35.1-6,10) in the first reading. We hear of John appearing in the “wilderness” (also understood as a deserted and desolate place). So why do we meet John there? It seems to me because there are no distractions; nothing to divert us from what is going on in our heart. In our lives we are constantly tempted to divert and distract ourselves from what really matters, to fill those empty spaces.
John calls you and me in to the wilderness(the desert) to “prepare the way of the Lord”, to open our eyes and become convicted, to turn and confess and prepare our hearts(the wombs of our hearts) to give birth to Christ. What do I mean by this? That our lives would be centred and focussed on Jesus, and our relationship with him; expressing in our thoughts, our words, and our actions.
2.) Mary, the mother of God offered her entire being and body to this reality, of birthing Christ. Saturday began the novena(9 days of prayer) before the feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe, patroness of the Americas, of the unborn, and of the Whitehorse diocese.
We have been blessed to have been donated a beautiful statue which resides at a side altar, above a votive candle stand, in our village church here in Telegraph Creek. This week she will be travelling to the different homes of our church community until her feast day on December 12th(also the National Day of Prayer in Solidarity with Indigenous People).
She appeared to Juan Diego in the year 1531, in Mexico, and by a miracle imprinted her image upon his tilma. The details and symbols* of this image revealed the message she wanted to share, not only with Juan Diego and the Indigenous Mexicans but to all people, about who she is and consequently who Jesus is:
Her dark complexion and mix of Indigenous and Spanish features represents the unity of all people, that we are all her children. Her eyes are gazing down, revealing humility. As great as she is she is not god. Indian gods always looked straight ahead, never down. Her face has an expression of compassion, as a mother gazing at her child(ren).
Her mantle is a blue-green colour, a colour of cloak which was only worn by the native emperors. The stars on her mantle were configured as they were in the sky just before dawn on that day she appeared to Juan Diego. Indigenous tradition also recognized the end and beginning of different eras by comets or bodies of stars.
Her hands express prayer and offering, while her bent knee, as in movement, signifies dancing prayer; expressing how the indigenous prayed.
The particular band around her waist is the sign of a pregnant woman. For the indigenous it was a sign of someone to come. This is also one of the few depictions of Mary in pregnancy.
Mary hides/eclipses the sun, only the rays come forth. She does not extinguish the light and it shows that she is greater than the Indigenous sun god.
She is standing on the crescent moon indicating that she is greater than the Indigenous god of night and also signifies her purity/immaculate conception .
The Angel ‘carrying’ Mary is seen by the Indigenous as an “intermediary god” carrying in a new era. The Angel is holding both her mantle(representing the heavens) and her tunic(representing the earth by the flowers) in each hand signifying a union between heaven and earth.
“A great sign appeared in the sky, a woman clothed with the sun,
with the moon under her feet…she was with child…” -Revelation 12.1-2
So let us look both to the examples of John the Baptist and Our Lady today as we pray for strength to turn away from distraction and sin and open our hearts to welcome Christ who wants to be born in us, not only at Christmas but, today!
* Notes on symbology gathered and paraphrased from the University of Dayton and New Mexico State University.