Sing and rejoice, O daughter Zion! For lo, I will come and dwell in your midst, says the Lord. Many nations shall join themselves to the Lord on that day, and shall be my people; and I will dwell in your midst. And you shall know that the Lord of hosts has sent me to you. The Lord will inherit Judah as his portion in the holy land, and will again choose Jerusalem. Be silent, all people, before the Lord; for he has roused himself from his holy dwelling.
Judith 13:18BCDE, 19
O daughter, you are blessed by the Most High God
above all other women on earth;
and blessed be the Lord God, who created the heavens and the earth,
Your praise will never depart
from the hearts of those who remember the power of God.
Luke 1: 26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to 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; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
When you think of a model disciple, whom do you think of? Maybe Peter, who became the head of the church? Maybe John, the disciple whom Jesus loved? Maybe Paul, not one of the original twelve, but the disciple called after Jesus’s resurrection to evangelize the Gentiles and write much of the post-Gospel New Testament? But when you’re trying to settle on the best model for a disciple, one called to lead, to love and be loved, and to spread the good news, do you think of Mary?
When we become Christians, we receive the word of God into our hearts and submit our lives to Christ. In this sense, Mary was the first Christian. She heard the word of God spoken by the angel, believed and submitted herself to God, and became a literal vessel of the Godhead made flesh in the person of the Christ. In that moment, Mary allowed her identity and her life to be changed by the Word and the Person of God, accepting His plans for her life in the place of her own and fulfilling the purpose for which she was born. So when we become disciples of Christ, we find a new identity in Him and allow Him to change our lives and our plans, and in the process become our true selves. And then Mary bore that Word, that child, in her body, bringing Him to her cousin Elizabeth before He was even born, and making Him present in the world. So when we become disciples, we are bound to make Christ present in the world not only as a great secret we hold inside us, but as Someone Whose life is within and beside and all around us, Who loves us and has made us our truest selves, and Who loves those who have not yet known Him and desires to help them become the truest versions of themselves.
Today, we can look between ourselves and Mary and honestly ask ourselves where we are in our discipleship? Are we continually being hearers and believers of the Word of God, or is something getting in the way of our hearing and believing? Have we said “yes” to God’s plans and promises for our lives like Mary, or are we still deliberating on our response? Are we secure in our identity as the beloved of the Christ? Do we talk about Christ to those who already know Him, as Mary brought the invisible incarnate Christ to Elizabeth? Do we talk about Christ to those who don’t know Him, as Mary brought Him into the world and let Him do His own work? Let’s pray to Jesus and Mary today to help us know where we are and to help us be better disciples. On this feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe and throughout this advent, let’s look to Mary to be our companion in discipleship and show us the way into deeper life and love.
Prayer: Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you. Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Holy Mary, Mother of God, pray for us sinners now and at the hour of our death. Amen.