Wednesday, November 30, 2016

Reflection for Wednesday, November 30, 2016

First Wednesday of Advent (Feast of Saint Andrew, Apostle)
ROM 10:9-18
PS 19:8, 9, 10, 11
MT 4:18-22

But I ask, did they not hear?
Certainly they did; for
“Their voice has gone forth to all the earth,
and their words to the ends of the world.” -Romans 10:18

As I read the scripture passages for today, I could not help but think of the popular Advent song, Mary, did you know?, which every year sparks discussion and anger on my social media pages (Spoiler: I’m a theology nerd, and so are my friends). We are only 4 days in and already people are sharing posts and pictures for the dislike of this song and the theological implications for the question it poses.

In the first reading, Paul writes to the Romans concerning the passing on of faith through oral tradition and a personal claim of that same faith by those who proclaim that Jesus is the Christ. Often when talking about this reading, people choose to focus on faith as a gift (for without the Church and her members how would one know about Jesus Christ) or they focus on faith in terms of belief as a means of justification.

While these may be important discussions, my identities as a woman and a mother move me to instead focus on the moment of hearing in regards to Christian discipleship. During Advent, the most significant point of hearing takes place during the Annunciation, the moment that Mary heard from the Angel Gabriel that she was to bear a Son who would be the Savior of the world. What follows from Mary is her canticle (i.e. the Magnificat) to God in praise and thanksgiving. Like Paul and many of the critics above, I am certain that Mary heard and believed that what the Angel Gabriel had said for her canticle has gone forth to all the earth and her words to the end of the world. Nevertheless, this does not mean that we cannot imagine the moment that she first heard the Gabriel’s words calling her favored and loved by God and pondered what sort of greeting this might be (cf. Luke 1:28-29). Sung as a prayer, the song Mary, did you know provides us a contemporary imaginative contemplation in the experience of Mary as she grasps with the fullness of what this great news will mean for her, her family, her people, and the world.

I have had the blessing of being pregnant twice during Advent and experiencing solidarity with Mary as she discovers the gift within her, her fears and anxieties about bringing this gift to term, and the pain and suffering of birthing this gift who will bring light and life to the world. Even those who have not, cannot, or chose not to have children can still imagine themselves in a similar situation as Mary during this holiday season -  fears and anxiety, joy and light in the darkness, abundant life after pain and suffering. My prayer is that through the inspiration of the Spirit we can all use our prayerful imaginations to enter more deeply into the Advent season and the struggles of others so that words of faith, hope, joy, and love can echo to the ends of the world. 

Erin Schmidt is the Campus Ministry Liturgy Coordinator.

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