A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT – CYCLE “B” – 12/24/17 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you this day!
Do you know, who has to have the greatest job in the entire world? I mean, besides LeBron James and Eddie Van Halen? It has to be the Archangel Gabriel. Can you imagine, just traveling down through history, and always getting to be the one to announce God’s really great news! And Archangel Gabriel must be very powerful. When Zechariah doesn’t believe him about the birth of John the Baptism, Gabriel makes Zechariah mute! Never, never, honk off an archangel. They get angry. And apparently you don’t want to be around an angry archangel. It is believed that Gabriel is also the angel that comes to Joseph in his dreams, about not being afraid to take Mary as his bride, and later telling him to flee with the Child Jesus to Egypt. Joseph follows the advice that he gets in his dreams, and he keeps his family safe and secure. And, of course, as we hear today, it is Gabriel who comes to Mary, with a proposition from God, about bringing His Son into the world. The Archangel Gabriel got all the cool jobs! He’s in the Old Testament and the New Testament! And these are just the jobs that we know about! How many other times, and in other situations, did Gabriel get to deliver really cool messages from God? We may never know. But it’s got to be a great job! And, And…it doesn’t sound like Gabriel has to fight demons all the time, like the Archangel Michael does. Michael can do the fighting. And Gabriel can be like the Fed Ex of Heaven, delivering all the cool messages!
Today in our Gospel, which we’ve heard several times already this Advent, Gabriel is sent to Mary, to get her to agree to God’s plan for the incarnation. Now, this encounter is very important. Because remember, just like all of us, Mary has that thing called Free Will. God cannot make Mary choose to be the Mother of His Son, Mary has to willing choose it. And so God chooses His best messenger in Gabriel, and He sends Mary this beautiful message, that doesn’t sound terrifying at all. Gabriel seems just a bit more kind and more gentle with Mary, that he does with Zechariah. Maybe the Archangel is on his best behavior, because Mary is younger, and a girl. For whatever reason, Mary really isn’t afraid. I mean, that’s one of the first things that Gabriel says to her, but she really doesn’t appear to be afraid of this huge angel. She listens to his message, and Mary says “yes” to God. She freely chooses to go along with God’s plan.
The kind of trusting faith that we see in Mary models for us a faith that is always open to God. She believes in God’s love for her and in his promises, and she gives herself wholly over to Him to do with her life whatever He would. This kind of faith and trust is exactly what we are called to, as we come to the end of this Advent season. Faith will take us more places that we can begin to imagine, if we just let God be in control, and say “yes” ourselves to His Holy Will.
And yet, you notices, Mary’s faith was not blind. She doubted and questioned. How can this be? Mary asked Gabriel. It’s a perfectly logical question, not questioning God so much, as questioning her own ability to understand God and His plan for her life. Even in the midst of perplexity, however, Mary confesses that God knows best, even if she doesn’t understand what He was about: May be done to me according to your word, she told the angel. This assent to God’s plan, His will, was not a one-time thing. It was the way that Mary lived every day. Mary was always faithful to God, in times of joy and in times of suffering. We are familiar with some of those times: the challenges of traveling to Bethlehem when she was expecting, enduring childbirth in a stable, searching for the child Jesus in the Temple, watching Jesus leave home to begin His ministry, and, of course, the standing there at the foot of the cross as He was crucified.
Can there be any doubt, that Mary’s faith is exactly the kind of trusting faith that we need today? We need the kind of faith that Mary had, the faith that she models for us, faith which continually trusts God amid the events in our world and in our lives that we do not always understand.
Faith is not something that we can summon up by ourselves. We can’t make ourselves have faith. The Catechism says that “faith is a supernatural gift from God” (179) We have no doubt that this same kind of faith will be given to us when we need it, just as it was given to Mary throughout her life, at exactly when she needed it! Mary’s faith allowed Jesus to be born into the world. May our faith welcome that birth tomorrow, and may our faith help us to share that good news with the world!
+ May God bless us in this very short Fourth Week of Advent, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit…
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!