“I waited patiently for the Lord, / and he inclined unto me
and heard my calling” (Ps. 40.1)
Pondus meum amor meus. My love is my weight. A powerful phrase from Augustine, it has shaped the medieval and reformation churches’ understanding of human redemption. The question is about what weight of meaning it might have for the contemporary church in all of our confusions and disarray. Augustine’s image captures a significant theological theme which, on the one hand, counters and, on the other hand, complements the inarticulate loneliness of a culture which has abandoned God. Yet it is there for us to think again.
Mary in Advent is Mary in Holy Waiting. The image relates to the Augustinian phrase. What defines Mary is her waiting upon the will of God. Far from a kind of passive acquiescence, Mary’s waiting is an holy activity, a kind of attentiveness to the pageant of God’s Word revealed in the Law and the Prophets and now, on Angel’s wings, it seems, opening us out to the wonder and the marvel of God’s coming to us through her. To what extent are we in her? For Mary, to use Irenaeus’ poignant and potent phrase is the pure womb which gives birth to that purity which Christ himself has made pure: “that pure one opening purely that pure womb which regenerates men unto God and which he himself made pure.”
It is impossible to think of Mary apart from Christ and so it is of interest the way in which she quietly and patiently intrudes her presence upon our meditations and thoughts. Mary is an inescapable feature of the landscape of Advent. She plays a critical and crucial role in our understanding of Christ’s coming to us, our Emmanuel, God with us. Through Mary we begin to discover how our humanity is totally and inescapably bound up with the will of God towards us; in short, his advent.