Jesuits in Formation Offer Advent Prayers: Week 2 by Sylvester Tan, S.J.

Sylvester Tan

Advent WreathAnd she kept these things, pondering them...

“You were made for greater things.” This statement has become something of a commonplace in our culture, so much so that one might ask what meaning still remains in these words. They may be words of encouragement or critique; they could be said by someone who loves us or someone who simply wants to sell us what they claim are “greater things.”

Mary, the mother of God, is one who was undoubtedly created for greater things. What God says to Jeremiah is even more true for the woman foreseen by God from all eternity as the immaculate mother of the Son of Man: “before I formed you in the womb I knew you, and before you were born I consecrated you” (Jer 1:5).

Mary does not stand alone. She grew up within the poor, faithful remnant which awaited the coming redemption of Israel. From the start, hers was the pregnant waiting of Israel, a waiting which comes with the visceral awareness that one is created for greater things.

These “greater things” are not things that one can imagine in advance. They are things that grow within us through the Word of God. We keep these things by pondering them in our heart, just as Mary does, faithfully awaiting but not anticipating the future that will be given. The “greater things” are always surprising. Was Mary not surprised when the angel—and later Simeon—revealed to her the greater things that she would bear?

In these days, let us keep these things, pondering them in our hearts, as Mary does. Let us ask God, with her help, to grant us the grace not to be satisfied by the “many things” that claim to be “greater,” but instead to wait upon the “ever-greater God” whom we encounter in the least among us, whom we are tempted to forget. The “greater things” for which we are created are given to us in the Word, and if we keep this Word, as Mary does—in prayerful expectation—then perhaps we too might become, in and through Mary, those through whom God’s saving Word can, ever anew, be borne into the world."

This reflection is offered by Mr. Sylvester Tan, S.J., who spent two years at Loyola univerity New Orleans in his regency perdiod.  He is preparing for his future priestly ministry by studying systematic theology at Regis College at the University of Toronto, and he also serves a vibrant immigrant community as a deacon at Toronto’s Our Lady of Lourdes Parish.