On this fourth Sunday of Advent, we hear Mary's song -- the Magnificat: "my soul magnifies the Lord". It is a song of openness -- to receive God's life-changing blessing; and a song of fierceness -- of what that blessing can and will do to the power centers of the world.
For years I paid little attention to Mary. She was the mother of Jesus, whose story was told and sang and depicted at this time of year. But in 1999, I went on an 8-day silent retreat at a Jesuit retreat house in Pennsylvania. Mary was everywhere -- in the liturgy, on paintings throughout the retreat center -- and on pedestals all over the grounds. In my silent time I began to ponder Mary -- and I came to appreciate her availability to God. She didn't have an oversized or undersized ego that needed stroking or inflating. She was totally available to receive God's spirit. In this sense, she was a virgin, because all that was in her soul was the desire to receive God.
That was her purity. That is her witness. And today I honor that gift.