1. The Annunciation. The angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is to be the mother of our Savior. Mary humbly asks an honest question: “How can this be since I am a virgin?” The angel responds, “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 called holy, the Son of God.” Mary answers simply: “Behold, I am the Handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
Humility and trust pervade Mary’s entire attitude before God. Mother Mary, help us imitate your example.
2. The Visitation. Mary enters the house of her cousin Elizabeth. At the sound of her greeting, the infant leaps in Elizabeth’s womb. Elizabeth says to Mary: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” And so we are inspired not only by Mary’s humility but by her absolute trust that what the Lord promised would indeed come about.
If John the Baptist—in Elizabeth’s womb—leaped for joy at the arrival of Mary, we, too, should find cause for joy when we come to pray before the Mother of God.
3. The Nativity. At the decree of Caesar Augustus, Mary and Joseph travel to Bethlehem to be enrolled. There, Mary gives birth to her firstborn son, wrapping him in swaddling clothes and laying him in a manger. Consider the humility of Mary on the one hand—and the humility of the Son of God on the other. In one of his sermons, St. Anthony of Padua expressed awe at the humility of God: “The Lord of the Universe is wrapped in swaddling clothes and lays . . . in a narrow manger.”
May all of us seek to imitate the humility of Mary—and of God!
4. The Presentation. Mary and Joseph take Jesus to the Temple in Jerusalem to consecrate him to the Lord. There, a devout and righteous man named Simeon was awaiting “the consolation of Israel. It had been revealed to Simeon . . . that he should not see death before he had seen the Messiah of the Lord.” Simeon said, “Behold, this child is destined for the rise and fall of many in Israel, and to be a sign that shall be contradicted.” Along with Simeon, we, too, have been introduced to the long-awaited Messiah.
May the Holy Spirit show us how to welcome and respond to him!
5. The Finding of the Child Jesus. After a trip to Jerusalem, Mary and Joseph realize that Jesus had accidentally been left behind. Returning, they find Jesus in the Temple, listening to the teachers and asking questions. Mary says to him, “Son, why have you done this to us?” Jesus answers, “Why were you looking for me? Did you not know that I must be in my Father’s house?” In family life today, we also find that we can run into conflicts when faced with confusing priorities. Ultimately, whose will must we follow? The will of our parents? Or the will of our heavenly Father?
Again, we will certainly need wisdom from the Holy Spirit.