Second Sunday of Advent (Trid. ’09)
(Jesus living in Mary/Union of Their 2 Hearts)
by Fr. Dwight P. Campbell, S.T.D.
“Behold the Lord shall come to save the nations: and the Lord shall make the glory of his voice to be heard, in the joy of your hearts.” These words from our Introit today, the Second Sunday of Advent, are directed to all the peoples of all nations on earth; but they apply in a special way to the Blessed Virgin Mary. Of all the people on earth to whom Our Lord came to save, it was Mary whose Heart was most filled with joy when God became man, for this Miracle of miracles took place within her immaculate womb: it was then, at the Incarnation, that Jesus began living in Mary – a fitting topic to consider in these weeks as we prepare for the glorious Birth of Our Lord & Savior, Jesus Christ.
Jesus living in Mary; the Son of God, infinite in power and majesty, whom the whole universe cannot contain, is enclosed within the womb of the Virgin Mother, where he lives for the first nine months of His life on earth. What humility! What condescension! What a self-emptying do we see in this mystery of the Incarnation and Jesus living in Mary!
Our Lord could have come to the earth as a full-grown man. But he did not. Rather, He chose to begin his earthly life in a manner like us: by becoming a little Babe and living in His Mother’s womb, enclosed there for nine months, unable to talk, or interact with others. Yet, we know that Jesus gave more glory to God His Father by living within his Mother for nine months, than if he had been preaching and performing great miracles for all to see.
Why was it part of God’s plan that Jesus should come to us through Mary, by living within her for the first nine months of His human life? What purpose did God have in doing things this way? No doubt, Jesus wanted to teach us to imitate Him by His example. As any other child living in its mother’s womb, Jesus was totally dependent on His Mother, Mary, for His human life and nourishment. What a wonder this is: that the Creator should be totally dependent upon a creature of His own making!
By living in Mary as a Babe in her womb, Jesus teaches us to have that same dependence on Mary for everything, and to entrust ourselves – our lives, our desires, our needs – totally to her. For she is truly our spiritual Mother in the order of grace, who not only foresees our needs, but protects us from harm as well. The oldest known prayer to Mary in the Church, the Sub tuum praesidium, dating from the late 200’s if not earlier, reflects this notion:
“We fly to thy patronage or holy Mother of God, despise not our prayers in our necessities, but ever deliver us from all dangers, O glorious & Blessed Virgin!”
In addition to giving us His example to imitate, Our Lord Jesus Christ had another reason for living within Mary for nine months: to establish a deep and abiding bond of love between Mother and Son; and here, this ineffable bond of love can, I believe, be best understood as a loving union of their two Hearts. As Pope John Paul II teaches, at the moment of the Incarnation, the Heart of Jesus began to beat beneath the Heart of His Mother, Mary, and at this time the ineffable union of love between their two Hearts was established – a union which began to grow and deepen with time, and which now perdures in Heaven.
With this teaching, Pope John Paul II was merely echoing what the great saints and spiritual writers had been saying for centuries. For example, in the early 1600’s, we have the writings of Pierre Cardinal Bérulle, the founder of the so-called French school of spirituality, in which so many great saints and spiritual writers, such as St. Louis de Montfort, were formed.
Cardinal Bérulle says that the Hearts of Jesus and Mary “live in one another,” and speaks about how when Jesus was a Babe within His Mother’s womb, there existed a mystical movement or inclination of Mary’s Heart toward the Heart of Jesus and of His Heart toward the Heart of Mary. Bérulle maintains that these two Hearts mutually ravished one another; that the Hearts of Son and Mother underwent a “continual attraction” and a “perpetual glance” toward each other, caused by the love which Jesus impressed on Mary’s Heart, and the Virgin Mother’s return of that love toward Jesus.
This mutual bond of love not only united their two Hearts, making them as almost one Heart; it also bore fruit – in a deep and abiding joy. We cannot fathom the joy that overflowed in Mary’s Heart, knowing that the Eternal Word took flesh in her womb and was living within her. Her Heart was literally bursting with joy – a great theme to contemplate in this holy season of Advent.
During the Advent season in 1685, St. Margaret Mary Alacoque, who was novice-mistress at the time in the Visitation Convent at Paray-le-Monial, put out a challenge for her novices. She wrote: “Our challenge for Advent will be for us to unite in spirits and in heart with the most holy Virgin, . . . in order to render homage to the Incarnate Word, this God made child in the womb, adoring him and loving him in silence with her.”
During this Advent season let us make this challenge our own by uniting our hearts with the Heart of Mary, asking her to share her joy with us at the upcoming Birth of her Son, so that like her, we may bring that joy to others, so that we may be harbingers of that true, authentic joy which finds its terminus or final end in the Eternal Word made flesh, Christ Jesus, Our Lord.