December 24, 2017: Fourth Sunday of Advent
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.”
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her. (Luke 1:26-38)
At the heart of this story is a young girl’s encounter with what she recognizes as a messenger of God. Startled by a powerful presence, she is reassured, “Don’t be afraid, Mary.” Then the incredible news: she, an unwed teen, is to be what all good Jewish girls wanted to be, the mother of the Messiah. She asks the obvious question. Then gives her “Yes.” That “yes” comes from a heart which has learned to trust absolutely. Let us reflect in awe on how she could so simply sign a blank check for her life and ask her help to trust God for this day.
During the next week, pick out three of the appeals from various charities that have come to your mailbox this month, set aside time to read them carefully, praying for the people they describe. Let God speak to your heart about some way you could help these people. Remember your contribution does not always have to be money. It could be time volunteering, or making a call to your representative or senator encouraging full funding of food aid programs (See www.bread.org), or some other creative response.