Advent makes us recall two figures who played prominent roles in the preparation for the historic coming of Jesus: the Virgin Mary and St. John the Baptist. Mary conceived the Son of God in her womb, reversing the closed door of Eve’s sinful disobedience to open it to God’s saving power. The Lamb of God entered through Mary’s “yes”—the yes of a woman preserved from all stain of sin. Free from sin, she truly is, as Gabriel declares, “full of grace” (cf. Lk 1:28). She is the Immaculate Conception, whose feast we celebrate on 08 December. It may be said that the first step in establishing a new creation without sin is the Immaculate Conception of the Blessed Virgin Mary.
St. John invoked a disciplined lifestyle detached from “excessiveness” in order to experience true change of heart leading to an acknowledgment of one’s sinfulness, guided by knowledge and practice of righteous values. With regard to John’s mission, he was “my messenger before your face, who shall prepare your way” (Mk 1:2; cf. Mal 3:1). He was a strong “voice crying in the wilderness to prepare the way of the Lord, make straight in the desert a highway for our God” (Is 40:3). His baptism of water was a call to conversion: to the humane way of thinking and acting per God’s plan.
While we are preparing for Christmas, let us make a sincere examination of our life, illuminated by the Bethlehem star, and the Star of salvation in the manger. We entrust to Mary our Advent journey towards the coming of Jesus Emmanuel, God-with-us, in repentant humble hearts open to transformation. With Mary and St. John the Baptist let us go forth to “prepare the way of the Lord and make straight his paths” (Mk 1:3). Let us give more time to prayer and reflection, repent of our sins, recall God’s grace-filled events in our life, and strive to practice selfless fraternal love with all.