It's a sunny September morning in Birmingham, Alabama, and I'm sitting at my desk amid signs of Advent. The weather outside hasn't yet progressed to Advent temperatures, but the interior landscape has taken on Advent colors.
On the floor in the living room is today's paper, with a front-page picture of Arafat and Rabin shaking hands. Scattered on my desk are minutes from a series of parish council meetings at which our little community tried to deal with the abrupt removal of our pastor. The coffee table is burdened with magazines and books about politics and faith, and on top of it all are mementos from my husband Jim's eight-day trip to Sarajevo, city of beauty and tragedy. Advent.
Several years ago my confessor told me to meditate on the Magnificat, especially the first line, which he translated, "My being magnifies the Lord...." MY being? My BEING? I've been mulling that one over (as instructed) and trying to understand how my being, full of faults and mistakes and misperceptions, can magnify the Lord. Mind you, not how I can praise God, but how what I am in myself magnifies God.
How can that be? How can Arafat and Rabin make peace? How can our little parish be community with all our strife and backbiting? How can beauty be present in Sarajevo? How can my being magnify the Lord?
James writes, "To listen to the word and not obey is like looking at your own features in a mirror, and then after a quick look, going off and immediately forgetting what you look like" (James 1:23-24). What I see and love when I read the gospel is that being deep within me who magnifies the Lord.