Prepare for Sunday Mass: Mary, John the Baptist and Advent Each week in OSV Newsweekly, Carl Olson provides a thoughtful, relevant reflection on the Mass readings for Sunday in his "Opening the Word" column. The following is just an excerpt, but you can read the entire column here.

From Carl Olson:

There are two great saints who stand, as Father Hans Urs von Balthasar described it, on either side of the gate into Advent. As we enter this season, John the Baptist and the Blessed Virgin Mary “ask us why and with what intentions we are seeking admission.” It so happens that this Sunday of Advent falls on what is normally the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, which has been transferred to Dec. 9. In successive days, we are able to more deeply consider these two members of the family of Jesus, who are related by blood, but are also joined to the Savior in unique, distinctive ways.

John, the cousin of Jesus, was the forerunner, preaching the ringing message of repentance and preparation. Two thousand years ago, he cried out in the desert; today, his words still resonate in the desert of a world thirsty for life and salvation. Mary, conceived without sin, would hear the call of God via another messenger, Gabriel, who said to her, “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you” (Lk 1:28). John was faithful to hear God’s call, then to preach and prepare the way; Mary was faithful to receive God’s word and then give birth to the Word Incarnate.

“The Precursor of Jesus,” said Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI in Advent 2010 of John the Baptist, “situated between the Old Covenant and the New, is like a star that heralds the rising of the Sun, of Christ, the One, that is, upon whom … ‘the Spirit of the Lord shall rest... the spirit of wisdom and understanding, the spirit of counsel and might, the spirit of knowledge and the fear of the Lord’ (Is 11:2).”

Read Olson's entire column to prepare for Sunday Mass.

Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.