4th Week of Advent
1st Reading: Is 7:10-14
The LORD spoke to Ahaz: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!” Then Isaiah said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38
In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his Kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
A UNIQUE EVENT: God prepared Mary to be the mother of his Son by preserving her from the stains of the Original Sin: “Hail you blessed one, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28). Mary is full of grace, as God had prepared her in a special way to become the mother of His son. However, God gave her freedom to accept to be the mother of God. Thus, when the angel delivered the message that she will conceive by the Holy Spirit, with great faith she freely accepted. Although it was a very difficult message for her, she accepted God’s call and plan for her. It is a very great faith and humility of our blessed virgin mother. God allowing His son to be born of a woman is God’s unique event. What could such an event mean? It means that God loves us beyond explanation.
Prayer: Thank you, Lord, for your great love for humanity.
MARY: BLESSED AMONG ALL WOMEN: The announcement by Angel Gabriel to Mary was when John the Baptist was only six months old. This new history of salvation began with the precursor of Jesus. Mary, a young girl from Nazareth was disturbed by the Angel’s greetings. The Angel’s response may have made her recollect on past miracles involving the ageing Sarah (Gen 18, 9-15), the barren Hannah (1 Sam 1, 9-18), and the elderly wife of Manoah (Judge 13, 2-5). Mary’s response “May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1,28) is parallel to the words of Jesus in the garden of Gethsemane, ‘Not my will but yours be done” (Lk 22, 42). It is inspiring to see that in her decision-making, Mary relied entirely on God. She was blessed among all women and became the mother of Her Maker.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus open up the possibilities for us to acknowledge the important roles played by women as we promote gender parity in the church.
IN PURSUIT OF HIM, THE ULTIMATE PURPOSE OF LIFE: Great Things happened in Human history when seemingly ordinary persons said yes. Here is a case of Mary saying an emphatic YES and “Yes, YOU ONLY”. Mary’s predicament is unimaginable, cannot be dealt within the fraction of a second. They say: ‘You should act young to stay young’. Empirical evidence is finally emerging that shows that aging is related to your mindset. Similarly, it is not just a singular Yes to God’s command. But Mary believed, Mary thought and Mary acted every bit the Mother of God’s son. But what lay at the foundation of her thinking was a firm belief that God is in charge. Come what may, God is in control. She believed, “He takes me, my child and the whole human history to the end HE desired”. Success, wealth and fame are all frills of a less defined life, signs of a life hardly directed towards “the purpose”. Mary’s example is of a person who has discovered answer to the question “What do I want to do with my life?” Let us earnestly be on our search to find God as our ‘life purpose’ and our ultimate end.