A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT – CYCLE “B” – 12/21/14 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and Goodness to you this day!
Our Gospel reading today begs the question, “How does an Archangel of God, in this case, Gabriel, appear to a human being, like Mary in today’s story, and not scare them to death? There’s no easy way for Gabriel to do this. It is nice that some of the first words out of Gabriel’s mouth are “Do not be afraid, Mary”. You get the impression that Gabriel has to say that a lot. Most of us would be terrified to see a massive, beautiful, winged-creature standing right in front of us. And I don’t think afraid is the right word. People get afraid when they see a rat, or a grizzly bear, or their mother-in-law. People who see God’s representatives, the Archangels, get terrified. Kinda makes you wonder what Mary was doing when this happened: Was she gathering eggs in the hen house, or doing her family’s laundry, or was she praying. Whatever she was doing, Mary gets interrupted in a way that would give most of us a coronary. Suddenly there is a huge angel. And there’s lights, and warmth, and peace, and feathers all around. And Mary’s never experienced anything like this before. This is not your typical Nazorean adolescent girl experience. This is not an experience that many human beings have ever had. Mary, who was full of grace, receives a very special message from God.
That message that Gabriel delivers sets the stage for everything that we are getting ready to celebrate in the next week. Mary has been chosen. She has been prepared since the first moment of her conception in St. Ann’s womb, for this very moment. And as this scene unfolds nine months before Christmas, which by the way, on March 25th, we Catholics will celebrate as the Feast of the Annunciation, God’s messenger comes to Mary with the most important question of her lifetime. There’s still Free Will at work, even though Mary is sinless. God is not going to force Mary to do anything. Mary must agree to a plan that God had spent all of history preparing for and coming up with. The Angel reveals all of this to her. It is the first time that any human being is hearing what God is planning to do, to save His people. The great prophets of Israel and all of the holy men and women of the Old Testament, all get shown bits and pieces, hints, previews even, of what God is going to do. But there on that one day, with an Archangel standing in front of her, Mary gets to hear the whole story before it happens. She’s the first to know what God is going to do. And it going to be with a baby! It’s not going to be another set of commandments. And it is not going to be another prophet. And it is not going be like Noah’s flood. It is going to be a baby. And this baby is to be born, of this Virgin Mary! And for it to happen, Mary has to say ‘yes’. It must have been overwhelming. It must have been mind-blowing for a girl of Mary’s age. You wonder if she even remembered to think about what her fiancé, Joseph, would think about the deal. But with all of her Faith, and all of her love, and all of her trust in God, Mary says ‘yes’. Mary obeyed. Mary agreed. She consented. And that ‘yes’, changed the world forever.
Guys, this is amazing stuff. This is great stuff! This is the background to everything that we are going to celebrate this coming Thursday. You can’t get to Christmas, without acknowledging Mary’s ‘yes’, her fiat. On this last Sunday of Advent, as we contemplate all of these things and as we recall Mary’s ‘yes’ to God, we are asked to consider our responses to God’s will. Look what happened when Mary said ‘yes’! God came alive inside of her! We never know all the great things that will happen when we say ‘yes’ to God. But in true Faith, and with great trust in God, we know that we are promised that if we do His Holy Will, if we obey His commandments, if we seek His truth and justice and compassion, we too will accomplish great things with God, just by saying ‘yes’. Sometimes ‘yes’ is the most powerful response that we can give to God. Why then, don’t we work at saying it more to Him?
I don’t know about you, but I don’t need an Archangel appearing suddenly in my life. I have never liked things jumping out at me, all of a sudden. It’s not helpful. I’d probably wet my pants. I don’t need the angel, and bright light, and the feathers, to do God’s will. I do need real Faith and God’s grace to ‘yes’ to what God wants me to do. May each one of us have that Faith and Grace, every single day!
May God bless us in these final days of Advent, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us !!!