December 20, 2020: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
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.
This is the moment on which our faith depends. A young girl’s “yes.” It turned her life upside down. Can you imagine her conversations with her parents, with Joseph? She is an unwed mother and so very alone. The last line of this gospel emphasizes that, “The angel left her.”
No wonder she heads off to visit her cousins, Elizabeth, an older, wiser woman. During these days of COVID-19, we too feel the need for support and encouragement. Some healthcare workers are wildly busy, teachers are asked to adapt to changing class formats, others deal with the demands of customers and deadlines; many feel overwhelmed. Faith teaches that Jesus is present in our human flesh, in our relationships with others. The nine months of pregnancy gave Mary time to process, to reflect, to imagine. She drew strength from the presence within her. We are challenged to do the same.
If you are home alone, resolve to take 20 minutes each day to sit in silence and breathe in Jesus and breathe out your concerns and worries. If you are balancing many commitments and responsibilities, try to catch the moments before the computer boots up, or at stoplights or waiting in line. Use these moments to be aware that Jesus is with you and will give you strength.