This meditation was my contribution to the 2013 Advent magazine of the Catholic Herald (29 November 2013). It is reproduced here with the permission of the editor.
The Offertory antiphon on the Third Sunday of Advent, Benedixisti Domine, is taken from Psalm 84 (85): “Lord, thou art become gracious unto thy land, thou hast turned away the captivity of Jacob. Thou hast forgiven the offence of thy people, and covered all their sins.” The psalm is a profound hymn of the hope of the people of Israel at the end of the Babylonian exile, as they journey to Jerusalem. It also appears in the introit for the beautiful Rorate Mass, a Votive Mass of the Blessed Virgin Mary sung before first light on the Saturdays of Advent. The “land” which is the womb of the Blessed Mother, has become the place where man’s captivity – our bondage to sin – is first undone. As St Irenaeus reminds us, by Mary’s obedience, Eve’s disobedience is reversed: Ave is made from Eva!