Fourth Sunday of Advent - 20 December 2020
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God" (Luke 1:30). Perhaps we would like to hear again and again these beautiful words of angel Gabriel addressed to a young virgin of Nazareth. They are so much comforting, soothing, fulfilling, encouraging and energising. We need these words as we end this calendar year with so much anxiety and uncertainty. For our good fortune, we have tremendously encouraging words on this Fourth Sunday of Advent. As we inch closer to celebrate the birthday of our Lord Jesus Christ, certainly God has something very concrete to say to us. Our God is full of hope and courage. In Him and through Him we can do anything to find a future of certainty and unambiguity. God in our midst is like a rock; for He is our salvation and strength. “Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28) must ring in our ears as we put our trust in Him. Perhaps with the things of this world, we can get caught up in the busyness of our lives, or so overwhelmed by all that is going on around us. As a result sometimes it can be so hard to find joy or recognise God's favour. It is easy to feel like we have been abandoned. We can question where God is in the world today. Therefore, sometimes we need to stop, and take the time to look around, we can spot the little things that remind us that God is with us and filling our empty selves with so many favours too.
II. God sends angels of hope and strength in our lives
To understand better the passage that we have in Luke's Gospel about the annunciation of our Lord we need to sit down quietly, close our eyes and imagine the scene. Virgin Mary is in her ordinary business of the day. The sudden appearance of angel Gabriel, a powerful force coming down in order to convey a promising message which is almost impossible in human terms should catch anyone's attention. The whole scene is simply superb. We can imagine the unimaginable and anxious moments young girl of 16 years goes through. And then there is this angel Gabriel, a kind and gentle force comforting the distraught Mary: “For nothing will be impossible with God” he says (Luke 1:37). How powerful those words must have been for Mary and a sigh of relief she must have felt knowing that it is God who is in control of her! Certainly, with God nothing is impossible. We need not take the place of God instead God places himself in our lives. He is there to fill us with fullness of his divine assistance or favour. He is there to make the impossible possible in our lives. Whether it is a moment of sunshine on a cloudy day of our lives, a smile from someone, or a helping hand when we are struggling are all the signs of God sending to us angels. We could notice them in the sound of the birds singing, the beauty of nature, a hot cup of coffee on a cold morning or a glass of lemon juice on a very warm day. God comes, comes, ever comes with His angels!
III. Miracles do happen in our lives as coincidence of God's providence
God has his own plans to carry out his work of creation and redemption. Even though the revelation that happens to Mary was already announced by the Hebrew prophets centuries ago, for her, however, it caught off the guard. Paul declares so boldly today in the Epistle 'the mystery kept secret since before the foundation of the world' (Ephesians 1:9; 3:3–9). The virgin about whom Prophet Isaiah foretold was Mary, who would bear a son of the house of David, (Isaiah 7:13–14). The history of salvation which is recorded in the Bible is a true story of the humanity and its history.
Jesus has been made known, Paul says today, to bring all nations to the obedience of faith. We are called with Mary today to marvel at all that the Lord has done throughout the ages for our salvation. And we too must respond to this annunciation with humble obedience—that His will be done, that our lives be lived according to His word.
In the Bible women like Sarah, Hannah, Elizabeth and others are visited by God's providence very powerfully. Though they seemed barren God made their lives joyful by giving them motherhood. They all, along with Virgin Mary accept God's tremendous intervention where God’s self-revealing action in human history becomes a reality.
IV. God makes our life possible courageously
Often in our lives the words of angel Gabriel must have rung powerfully. As we grow up our faith too grows, however, it must be stronger. We know that God is around us and at our side. He makes our finite potential to be unlimited. God becomes a reality through His attention. Our focus should be God and not the frailty of human limitedness. What measures is not our ability to control our lives or our limited personal growth but our potential to love others and to serve those in need. There are no boundaries for this or fences to curtail them. Moreover, if we really want to do more for others and demonstrate our love and concern for them, we can, “For nothing will be impossible with God.” The message of annunciation is a great gift that we receive even before the birth of Jesus through the words of Gabriel: the gift of our unlimited potential as Christians to change the world and make it, and all who dwell in it, better. In fact you don't have to change for God to love you. God comes to you and loves you as you are now. In other words, God meets you where you are
We, too, need comfort and reassurance in these most troubling of times. The surge of virus infection continues, and while we are hopeful for the vaccine, its efficacy remains to be seen. The farmers in our country are agitating because they feel they are not taken into confidence. Moreover the government and its ministers tried to break the farmers’ unity by all sorts of foul words with false and unjust accusations. Moreover, spraying ice water on the peaceful protesting farmers in Delhi during this cold winter the stubborn sarkar has demonstrated once again, the people who slog in the fields day and night and make sure we have food on the table their lives and welfare matter very little. Fr Stan Swamy and other people of conscience are spending their lives in jail with unjust reasons without a proper court hearing. The government is entirely telling lies after lies in order to make lies truth as if that would suffice to show it’s citizens fake welfare programs. In this context meditating on angel Gabriel’s words of wisdom can, likewise, give us hope and strengthen our faith to face each day anew, knowing that with our God, nothing is impossible. As Christmas approaches, let us take the time to seek the things that bring us joy, and to share that joy with others, remembering that Christ is always with us.
Questions for Reflections1. Does the words of angel Gabriel instil a deeper faith in you?
2. Have you felt anytime God's favour in your life more resolutely?
3. How do you look at these contrasts that we have been hearing during this advent: justice, injustice; integrity, corruption; danger, safety?
Prayer:God our Lord, for nothing is impossible to You.
In your power we too can make the impossible possible in our lives.
Give us that courage and strength of Mary our Mother,the determination and creative and bold listening of Joseph your father.Lord, as you made your home among us, be with us nowand forever especially during those trying moments of our lives wherewe don't see the light at the end of the tunnel.God-with-us comfort us all and bring us joy. Amen.
- Olvin Veigas, SJ
19 December 2020