<%image(20051211-advent wreath.jpg|127|95|adventwreath)%> Today is the Third Sunday of Advent. Though I would never advocate actively praying to Mary or viewing her as a special messenger to Jesus in heaven, the Gospel writers did include several stories in their narratives as an encouragement and example to the church. Mary is part of the great cloud of witnesses who went before us, sacrificing her reputation, believing the unbelievable, and bearing the heavy burden of watching her son die as a convicted criminal.
The Gospel narratives make it fairly clear that she probably did not believe Jesus was the Messiah right off the bat or at least was concerned about the commotion he was stirring up, but quickly became a follower after his resurrection. In any case, here is a reading from today’s Divine Hours:
Traditionally the Church has used the third week of Advent as a time for giving particular attention to Mary and her role as bearer and mother of our Lord.
As the child’s father and mother were wondering at the things that were being said about him, Simeon blessed them and said to Mary his mother, ‘Look, he is destined for the fall and for the rise of many in Israel, destined to be a sign that is opposed—and a sword will pierce your soul too—so that the secret thoughts of many may be laid bare.’