Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 20, 2020
Dear Believers in the Incarnate Christ,
We proclaim Luke 1:26-38 on this Fourth Sunday of Advent. On this last Sunday before Christmas, the gospel and the prayer texts take a slight turn in tone. For these past weeks, we have been reflecting upon the Second Coming of Christ. We have heard the mighty voice of the adult John the Baptist herald the coming of the Kingdom. We have listened to the adult Jesus ask us to be prepared and stay alert. Today, as it is traditional on the Fourth Sunday, the liturgy seems to calm down. No more finger pointing to what is to come, no more loud prophets calling out in deserts. Here we wait for the birth of Jesus. We listen to Mary and to this amazing angel.
I always wait to read about the presence of Gabriel in Advent. I love this angel. His presence and his voice herald a new presence of Christ Jesus. Here, he appears to a young girl named Mary. He voices some remarkable things to this young virgin. Out of the blue, he says to her that she is full of grace. Wow, can you imagine what Mary must have thought about hearing this coming from a creature of heaven? I can’t imagine that she knew exactly what an angel was let alone that she was graced, and that God was with her.
The amazing thing about this encounter, is that Gabriel reveals that she will carry a child and that his kingdom will have no end. “How can this be…?” is certainly the question of her lifetime.
I have read this gospel my entire life and I still ponder such an incredible happenstance. Luke’s desire to give voice and credibility to this young teen, a woman with no cultural power, is beautiful.
Gabriel has more to say. And this statement is also for us, the gospel reader. Gabriel says to Mary, after he reveals the fact of her cousin’s pregnancy with John, “for nothing will be impossible for God.” This is the miracle of God’s presence. This is the miracle of the Incarnation. I believe with my entire being that all things find their common good in God. God’s ways are not our ways necessarily, but all will be well in God. All will be well. All things.
This week, we celebrate Christmas. I know it will not be like other Christmases. We will struggle to be in the same room with grandchildren. We will travel less. Even our numbers at Mass will not pack the church. However, we all still live in these amazing words from Gabriel. For nothing will be impossible for God, no matter our need for healing in this pandemic or the economic upheavals so many are facing. We know that all things, even our schooling for children or the boredom of our aging relatives, will be well.
Please know of my prayers for all of you and your extended families this Christmas. This is a tough time for all of you. I have never been in such a difficult leadership position. I know many people are waiting for more at our parish. Yet, we still need to be prudent in our efforts. So, no matter where you are celebrating this Christmas, please feel the prayers of our staff, the goodness of this community and the fidelity of the Word-Made-Flesh. Jesus is here for us in our efforts to rebuild so much of our lives in 2021.
Before I leave this Advent gospel, just one more thing. After all that Mary hears from the Angel, she says, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” This is one of the most important and sustaining prayers in the scriptures. I believe with all my heart that it is the prayer we need to store in our hearts during these painful months. As we ponder the gifts we have been given in God, our family, our friends, our talents and so much more, we too, say Mary’s, “Yes”, to God.
Perhaps this yes is the gift we can give to one another this Christmas. This affirmation will lead us well beyond our own selfishness and into the beauty of God’s plan for us as a people. We harmonize with Mary’s voice this Christmas. “Yes!”
Merry Christmas to you, your loved ones, and beyond. Allow In your hearts, peace to reside.
God give you peace,