Fouth Sunday of Advent (December 24, 2017)
We have just heard the angel Gabriel announce God’s plan for the salvation of his people. It’s a story that is very familiar to all of us. Sometimes that makes it difficult to hear the wonder of it. Through Gabriel, God is asking a young woman to consent to be the mother of the Son of God who wanted to come among us and share our human nature.
The fulfillment of God’s plan of salvation hangs on her response. With great humility, Mary says “May it be done to me according to your word.” Now the history of God’s love for his people can culminate in the Incarnation – Jesus becomes human like us.
The story in today’s gospel also offers us an opportunity to reflect on how we choose to respond to the unexpected happenings in our life. Some of us find ourselves carrying a burden of suffering that isn’t light, or we must look on helplessly while someone we love suffers, or we have become very dependent on others for things we want to do. Some of us may find ourselves saying: “Lord, why me? What did I do to deserve this?”
Perhaps we can learn something from Mary’s response to the angel’s unexpected message. She asked a humble and honest question. She asked Gabriel to help her to understand what God was doing. “Lord, help me to understand what you want of me right now.”
It’s interesting to note that Gabriel’s response didn’t really give her a clear and detailed answer to her question. Gabriel’s response called Mary to have faith in God and trust in God’s provident goodness. Because Mary trusted God’s love for his people and for her, she was able to trust Gabriel’s words to her in humble faith. She offered herself in humble obedience to all that God would choose to do with her: “May it be done to me according to your word.”
Even if we humbly ask God to help us understand how he is working in us,
we may not get a clear and detailed answer to our question. Whatever answer we do get will call us to trust in God’s love for us. We will hear God tell us:“I have loved you with an everlasting love; trust me.”
May each of us have the faith and courage to respond to God as Mary did:
“May it be done to me according to your word.”