For almost four weeks now, we have been preparing ourselves for the birth of our Savior. During these past weeks of Advent, Prophet Isaiah reminded us to prepare the way for the Lord and make straight His paths. He pointed out to us what our Savior was going to bring to us, which includes, “good news to the humble, to bind up the brokenhearted, to proclaim release to captives, freedom to prisoners; to proclaim the favorable year of the Lord, and the day of vengeance of our God; and to comfort all who mourn. Saint John the Baptist during this season of Advent also emphasized the call to prepare the way of the Lord through sincere repentance for the forgiveness of our sins, while telling us about Jesus, who is coming to save us, why He is coming to save us, what His coming into our world means for us, and what He will bring into our lives and our world.

But as we come closer to the birth of our Lord Jesus Christ, the gospel readings concentrate more on our Blessed Mother Mary. Why? Because the Catholic Church wants us to concentrate now on how we can stand firm in God as Christ’s disciples when He comes into our lives and world on Christmas Day. The example of Mary is given us so that we can emulate Her, who is the first disciple of Christ and because it is through her that God’s promise of redemption, was fulfilled in Jesus Christ. How? At the moment Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word,” the Son of God took human nature in her. The story of the Annunciation we heard today in the gospel reading clearly shows what the call to discipleship entails, how we can foster that call, nurture it and nourish it. Mary shows us three essential virtues that will help us dedicate our lives to our Lord Jesus Christ as His disciples when He is born into our lives on Christmas Day. These virtues are: Faith: Faith means having a strong belief in God, that is, having total and complete confidence in Him. It is an unwavering assurance of things hoped for, the conviction of things not seen. From the life of Mary, we can see how strong her faith in God was, and how she lived out and proclaimed that faith. Hope: Hope is the act of cherishing a desire with anticipation. It is the confident expectation of and longing for the promised blessings of righteousness. This was exemplified by Mary all through her life as a virgin and child of God, but more especially with her response to God saying, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord, may it be done to me according to your word.” Trust: Trust is a firm belief in the reliability, truth, ability, or strength of someone or something. It is our allegiance or belief in God. It is our acknowledgement of God in everything. Mary never wavered in her trust in God, because she always acknowledged and believed in Him.

My dear friends, take a moment not to meditate on the life of Mary, the first disciple of Christ. Think about how she dedicated her life to God and was always willing and ready to serve God. Remember that it was in her service to God as a virgin that angel Gabriel visited her as we heard in today’s gospel reading. Think about how she hoped in God, confidently expecting and longing for Christ and willingly cherishing the anticipation of His birth. So my brothers and sisters in Christ, as we come to the end of the Advent season, let us emulate the Blessed Virgin Mary in saying “Yes” to God like She did, by keeping our eyes and hearts fixed on our Messiah and Savior with faith, hope and trust in Him, who is our salvation and eternal happiness.