4th Sunday of Advent
“I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said”
Our God is a God of promises. The promises of God are not empty, but something that man can rely upon with confidence. The salvation history, especially the genealogy of Jesus narrated by the evangelist Matthew (Mt 1:1-17), shows the faithfulness of God in fulfilling his promises. Neither human weaknesses, nor their mistakes could dissuade God from being faithful to the covenant. The first reading of today is full of promises made to David and his descendants. The promises made to him were broken after a few centuries when the kingdom of David was destroyed. But the gospel of today illustrates how God, through his only Son Jesus, brings to completion the promises he made to David.
The promise of God presupposes His plan for humanity. What God desires for humanity is that it be happy living in union with Him. The original state of happiness of Adam and Eve in the presence of God was lost by their disobedience. Disobedience, infidelity and rebellion of man saddened God, but they did not provoke God to abandon human beings, nor to abandon the plan that he had for them. The annunciation (Gospel) is an attempt to bring them back to the right path.
The annunciation of the birth of Jesus reveals the nature of God as someone who involves himself in the history and destiny of humanity. Amidst the sins and the miseries of people, God does not want to remain indifferent, but intervenes. God who took initiative in creating man, now takes initiatives in redeeming him.
The annunciation of the birth of Jesus gives a glance of how God acts. The town of Nazareth, the place of Mary’s origin, was not famous, nor was Mary well known. She was an ordinary woman from an ordinary family without any distinguishing trait. In spite of the absence of these “qualifications”, God called Mary to be the Mother of Jesus. Seems strange! Again, the birth of Jesus comes in a way never heard of in the history: a virgin should give birth! This is how God acts. And man cannot always comprehend the way God acts. What is essential is not to comprehend, but to accept and carry out God’s design.
The episode of the annunciation of the birth of Jesus reveals the power of God: a virgin, without losing her virginity, gives birth to a Son; Elizabeth in her old age conceives. Humanly speaking, they are impossible, but everything is possible for God.
Being an unmarried woman, and considering the rigidity of the time, it was difficult for Mary to accept the request of the angel. But unmindful of the humiliation she would face and the condemnation that she would receive, Mary said “yes”. Through her “yes” the whole humanity is blessed. Salvation comes through Mary who collaborates with God’s plan. Like Mary we too are called to be part of the salvation history. God wants to save the humanity through us. Hence, amidst confusion, difficulties and temptations let our response to God’s invitation be: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said”.
– Fr Devasia Puthiyaparambil, SSP