“Mary is not only the bridge joining us to God; she is more. She is the road that God travelled in order to reach us, and the road that we must travel in order to reach him. Through Mary, we encounter God the way he wants us to: in tender love, in intimacy, in the flesh.”

Pope Francis

I was recently facilitating a conversation with Church leaders around the future. As usual, there was that normal tension between wanting to go somewhere different and a fear of leaving the past and present behind. When I’ve been the participant and not the facilitator in those moments, it feels like I’m a very inexperienced trapeze artist without a net. There are brief moments when I see the bright future right in front of my face, but I can’t let go. I can’t seize it, even though it’s where I need to go, and even if it’s within my grasp. One person around the table said, “I know we don’t exactly know what we want to be when we grow up, but we have got to start heading there.”

Fast forward to the Feast of the Immaculate Conception this past week, and my pastor found a very calm baby and held him during his homily. This of course got everyone’s attention, even the school children present. Our pastor made a beautiful connection to the plan God has for baby Frankie’s life, just as he had a very special plan for our Blessed Mother, and just as God has a plan for all of us. Our pastor asked the school children, “What do you want to be when you grow up?” Of course, the hands shot up and our pastor reminded everyone that God’s plans were even better than the sweet and sometimes hilarious dreams they could imagine.

As Mass continued, I thought about what I wanted to be when I grew up and how, at 40, I still don’t really know. After a moment of worry and regret that perhaps my middle-aged self was running out of time, I became aware of some of the prayers and hymns during Mass related to our Blessed Mother. What she became was so connected to who she was. Perhaps the best question to ask our children and ourselves is not what we want to be when we grow up, but who we want to be? Who is God calling us to be? Mary’s fiat, her yes, was much more than an action, it was representative of an identity - a woman who was faithful, who was docile and open to the Spirit, who was confident (if not a little nervous at the Annunciation) in the Lord’s providence. She knew who, and whose, she was first and, therefore, she knew what she needed to be.

As I drove home, I felt peace that regardless of how old I am, I always have the opportunity to answer the question about who I want to be. And perhaps if I was clearer about who I want to be, maybe I might see the safety net the Lord always has underneath me. And maybe, just maybe, I might be able to grab the future He has in store for me. As we become more aware of our expectant Advent hearts, let’s reflect not on what we want for Christmas, but who we want for Christmas and who we want to be for Him when He comes.

by Daniel Cellucci

December 12, 2022

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