Friday, December 19, 2008

December 21: Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B

December 21: Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B
Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

On this final Sunday of Advent, Christmas is only a few days from now. The atmosphere of Christmas is around us as we listen to Christmas carols in the midst of intense preparation, looking forward to celebrate the mystery of the Incarnation in our families, with relatives and friends. It is the spirit of sharing at Christmas that matters most rather than the number of Christmas cards and gifts given or received. As we approach Christmas, the mystery of God sharing self with humanity, we are reminded of the millions in the world who will go to bed hungry on Christmas day, and we are challenged to share with others. On this final Sunday of Advent, we celebrate what Paul, in the second reading, calls the mystery of God's love kept secret for endless ages, but now revealed to us. The liturgy of the word this Sunday leads first to consider the key role of Mary in the work of our salvation. Mary makes Christmas possible. It is her ‘Yes’ that changes everything. With her acceptance, God enters in our midst. The Incarnation, the assumption of a human nature by God, begins at this moment. It is natural for us to focus rather on the birth of the child some nine months later for it was then that God could be seen, responded to and worshiped. It was at that moment that he began openly to “dwell among us.” The Gospel therefore focuses our attention on the mystery of God's love that we celebrate this Sunday. This mystery is revealed through the message of an Angel to Mary. The liturgy of this Sunday becomes a great song of praise to the everlasting love of God revealed in Mary's yes that changes the course of human history. The key to understanding the message in the Gospel is found in the words of the Angel Gabriel to Mary: "Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a Son, and you shall name him Jesus". These words once spoken to Mary before that first Christmas are spoken to us today. The mystery of God's saving love, once hidden, is revealed to us too.

Secondly as a worshiping community we celebrate God's faithful love for his people, as we find in the first reading from the Book of Samuel. Here David thinks of building a house for the Lord. Instead it is the Lord who promises to build a house for David, a house that will last for ever, which means that the Messiah is to be born in the line of David. All we need to do is to open ourselves to discover God’s presence. God is in our midst. A wise person in the village once went in search for God on the mountain. On his arrival there, he found an angel seated. The angel told him that God was not there for he had gone down to live among the people. What message do we take home this Sunday? 1) The readings challenge us to discover Christ in our midst, in our prayer, in our work by trying our best to do God’s will. 2) We are given Mary as a model of doing God’s will; of accepting God’s invitation to be used as instruments of salvation. 3) In the coming few days, if we want to discover Christ, we need not go up the mountain like the wise person. Christ is already in our midst. Christ is particularly in the poor, the hungry and the less fortunate. There we will find him.

©2008 John M. Mbinda

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