Advent is a season of waiting with Mary to celebrate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. It is a good time to reflect on the pregnancy of Mary as she waited in joyful expectation for the birth of her son.
We reflect during Advent that Jesus was a pre-born child. The moment of the Incarnation took place not on Christmas Day at his birth, but at the Annunciation which we celebrate on March 25 - nine months earlier. Jesus the Eternal Word took flesh in the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary, by the power of the Holy Spirit, after she consented to God’s plan announced by the Archangel Gabriel.
Reflecting on Mary’s pregnancy can teach us patience and the attitude of joyful expectation that all of us should have as we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus and as we wait for his second coming in glory at the end of time. This attitude of joyful expectation should accompany the pregnancy of every woman as we await the birth of her pre-born child. Each child is made in the image and likeness of God no matter what their handicaps or circumstances of conception. Every child deserves a chance to be born and to continue to grow and develop outside the womb. Jesus identifies with the pre-born since he himself was a pre-born child. Jesus went through all the stages of development that we went through. He was a tiny zygote, an embryo, fetus, infant, child, adolescent and an adult. At no time did he become more human. He simply went through different stages of human development as we all did. When Jesus was developing in the womb he was not a potential person.
Mary also can identify with every pregnant mother in a difficult pregnancy. She did not fully understand God’s plan, yet she trusted. True devotion to Mary means imitating her virtues – her faith, her trust and her willingness to make sacrifices for the sake of her son and others as she stayed with Elizabeth for three moths to help Elizabeth deliver St. John the Baptist. When Mary visited St. Elizabeth John the Baptist leapt for joy within St. Elizabeth’s womb as he recognized Christ’s presence in Mary. Thus we see John who was a fetus recognizing Christ who was a tiny embryo. This should lead us to an even greater respect for the lives of pre-born children and inspire us to work for their protection. Jesus says "Whatever you do to the least of my brothers and sisters that you do to me." (Mat. 25, 40)
St. Joseph cared for Mary during her pregnancy. He is an example for all men of the stewardship they are called to exercise. Men are called to respect the wonder of procreation and to care for pregnant women emotionally, materially and spiritually. During their pregnancies women become vulnerable should be able to rely on the support of their husbands and other men in their life who should respect and assist women as the mystery of life unfolds within them.
It is fitting that there are major feasts of Our Lady during the celebration of Advent – the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception and the Feast of Our Lady of Guadalupe. Mary appeared as a pregnant woman to Blessed Juan Diego in Mexico in 1531. She identified herself to be "the perpetual and perfect Virgin Mary, holy mother of the true God through whom everything lives, the Creator and Master of heaven and earth". She also proclaimed herself as Juan Diego’s "merciful mother, the mother of all of you who live united in this land, and of all humankind, of all those who love me, of those who cry out to me, of those who seek me, of those who have confidence in me." Mary showed love to a people who had just escaped from the diabolical Aztec Empire in which human sacrifices were offered to false gods. Pope John Paul II proclaimed Our Lady of Guadalupe to be the Patroness of the Americas. She is also recognized as the Patroness of the Unborn.
We recognize that Mary’s life began at the moment of her conception in the womb of St. Ann. From the first instant and throughout her life she remained free from sin. Through the Immaculate Conception God gave humankind a new start. The name "Eve" means "mother of all the living", but because of her disobedience Eve brought sin, death and suffering into the world. When Jesus calls Mary "Woman" in the Gospel of John at the Wedding Feast of Cana and at the foot of the cross Jesus was affirmed her mission as the new Eve. Mary is more truly the mother of all the living.
Mary said yes to God and Jesus Christ was conceived in her womb by the power of the Holy Spirit. Jesus Christ is the Way, the Truth and the Life, so Mary is truly the Mother of Our Life. From the cross Jesus our Life gave Mary to us to be our mother. Mary throughout history has come to the aid of her people. As Mary put an end to the culture of death in Mexico we pray today that she will intercede for the United States. In 1846 the Bishops of the United States dedicated our nation to the Immaculate Conception. Ask Mary to intercede for us to put an end to the tragedies of abortion, euthanasia and other attacks on human life that we might lead other nations to respect the dignity and value of each and every human life from conception to natural death.