Fourth Sunday of Advent. December 21, 2008

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11,16 Romans 16:25-27 Luke 1:26-38
We are approaching now to our celebration of Christmas. We have been preparing ourselves now for this great event. Today we consider the key role of Mary in the work of our salvation. Mary, we might say, made Christmas possible. It is her ‘Yes’ changed everything. With her acceptance we have the world that is transformed and God has now man. The Incarnation, the assumption of a human nature by God, began at this moment. But it is natural for us to focus rather on the birth of the child some nine months later for it was then that he could be seen, responded to and worshipped. It was at that moment that he began openly to “dwell among us.”
In today’s First Reading from the Second Book of Samuel, we heard that when David was king over the Jewish people, God had brought peace to his land and God had delivered the nation from all its enemies. Now David wants as if to return favour and build a grand house for God like his palace and shift God’s place from that of the tent. Hearing King David’s concern for a dwelling place for God, the prophet Nathan told him that God was with him. But God tells David, it is he who builds the house and not the other way round. Instead He will make a dynasty a house to live forever and not a house made by human hands. He makes a promise of the redeemer who will come in the Davidic dynasty and he will establish the new house, the Kingdom.
During today’s Second Reading from the letter to the Romans, we heard Saint Paul telling us that God is able to strengthen us in the Spirit of Truth. Through the words of St. Paul, God makes known to us His mysteries. God spiritually disposes the minds of the believers who hear the proclamation of Jesus, namely, Jesus is the one who is revealed by God’s mystery that was kept secret for centuries. In other words, St. Paul is saying that we are to listen to and obey the words of Jesus Christ and experience his revelation. For through Jesus, the salvation of mankind has come to all, the Jewish nation and the Gentiles. The Kingdom of God has come on earth as it is in Heaven.
Today’s gospel tells us that Mary becomes pregnant even before she came to live with Joseph, her betrothed person. There is the Annunciation scene. God sent an angel called Gabriel to a small town in Galilee called Nazareth. The angel appeared to a virgin called Mary who was engaged to be married to Joseph, a descendant of the house of David. The angel said to Mary, “Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou among women.” Imagine Mary being confused and wondering what kind of greeting she was receiving. Then comes the Angel’s response to Mary, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God.” To find “favour with God’ means that the grace of God is with you. It also means that God has chosen you. He gives her now the promise of God of a son, the saviour and king and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
We can see the innocence of Mary to say that such a thing is impossible for her. But the angel assures her saying that she would become pregnant through the power of the Holy Spirit and that her Son will be holy, He being the Son of God. He also tells her that for God nothing is impossible and she hears the story of Elizabeth her cousin who is ready to give birth to a son in her old age. Now Mary’s response is yes and a whole hearted yes to God. In saying ‘Yes’ Mary was doing something much more than making a pious acquiescence to an angelic request. She was also saying ‘Yes’ to everything that would follow her becoming Jesus’ mother. She was saying ‘Yes’ to the vicious attacks made on her Son’s character later on, to his total rejection by the religious and civil establishment of his own people, and to the final brutal treatment at Calvary leading to his execution as a public criminal. At the same time her yes changed the world and changed us. We became through her the people of the kingdom.
In the Annunciation scene we have two distinct themes namely a special gratuitous choice made by God. He has chosen her with a special purpose and he will chose and invite those he wants as nothing is impossible to him. Secondly, Mary exercises her freedom of choice. A request was made of her and she freely responds with a wholehearted ‘Yes’.”I am the slave of the Lord; let what you have said be done to me.” It is this freedom that dominates our Christian life as we move towards the feast of Nativity. Underlying these themes is the attitude of obedience. Obedience is often understood as passive subservience. The world associates obedience with weakness and spinelessness. True obedience comes from a free choice made in the light of what is true and good. True obedience can require a great deal of courage because it can involve going against social structures and individual convictions.
Mary’s choice was no easy one under any human circumstance. A young girl, betrothed but not yet married to Joseph, she was being asked to become pregnant through the Holy Spirit. It was very much like passing a death sentence on herself. Such a thing was punishable by stoning a person to death. But her obedience makes her ready to accept God’s will in her life. As we approach the celebration of Christmas, let this become an example for us. We too are called to make a choice and decide for God in freedom to stand by some one in need, to support the helpless ones and to give our best to build the community. It is like the wedding feast of Cana where Mary did not hesitate to help out the persons in need and made Jesus anticipate his mission work.
As we continue to celebrate the Holy Mass, let us remember that the Lord Jesus is with us, here and now, having established His spiritual Kingdom on earth. Our attitude must be like Mary to search for God and discover him. It should be like that of the sage who went in search of God who, they said lived on the top of the Mountain. But when he reached the top exhausted. But the angel who was sitting there told him that God is not there. He has gone down the other side to live with the people.



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