The mystery of the birth, death and resurrection of Christ taken together is the central mystery of revealed religion. The readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent help us enter into this mystery, using Mary as the model of how we're invited to participate in this incredible act of God becoming man.
In the first reading, David consults Nathan about building a house for God to dwell in. God then turns the tables on David and says, "Go, tell my servant David, 'Thus says the Lord: Should you build me a house to dwell in?'"
In other words, it's as if God is telling David, "It was I who took you from the pastures and made you king of Israel. It was I who defeated your enemies and established peace on all sides." He then speaks very plainly: "The Lord also reveals to you that He will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make your kingdom firm." He concludes: "Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever."
When David wanted to do something great for God, God said, "No, David. I want to do something great for you and for all mankind. I want to make your kingdom last forever." Suddenly, God's word harkens back to Genesis and the fall of Adam and Eve. God isn't satisfied in dwelling in a fine man-made building. He wants to dwell in the hearts of His people, and He will go to extreme lengths to achieve His goal.
With the Annunciation scene in the Gospel, the Scriptures leap forward 600 years to fulfill this prophecy. God sends His Archangel Gabriel to a town in Galilee called Nazareth. The angel's first words are, "Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you." Translated, this may mean, "God is ready to move forward, establishing His kingdom on earth."
At this point, Mary seemed to have no clue as to what was really taking place, 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 called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give Him the throne of David His Father ... ."
"Mary said, 'Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word."
With her "yes," salvation moves forward. The Word Made Flesh is now living in our midst for our salvation.
This savior will teach us that His Father, who is also our Father, sent Him to bring salvation to all mankind. What does it mean to be saved? Ultimately, it means that we will live with the Most Holy Trinity, the angels and the saints in glory for all eternity.
However, it means much more. It means salvation from sin and our compulsions daily. It means that we don't have to be victims of our weaknesses, but that daily we can turn to Him for forgiveness and grace to live in peace and harmony with everyone.
It means that when we make mistakes — even big mistakes — we can turn back to Him and ask for mercy and forgiveness. It means that we can daily grow in holiness and help lead others there. It means that every day, we have the opportunity of loving Jesus in others, helping them in their troubles and discovering Christ in need of our love.
You may say that this is too hard? But I say to you, would an all-loving God give us the desire for intimacy with Him without making this intimacy possible? For this reason, Jesus' mother was given to us as our mother. He wants His mother to participate in the joy of saving us.
She loves to intercede for us. If she interceded for the wedding couple at Cana of Galilee, how much more will she intercede for us who are anxious and fearful, because we have "in-laws and out-laws" who have drifted away from church attendance? Not only does she love and care for them with the Father's love and compassion, but her saying "yes" to be the mother of our Redeemer has led to Satan's defeat. Hence, devotion to Mary is a powerful deterrent to Satan.
It gave Mary great joy to give birth to Christ in Bethlehem. The hardships and fears only deepened her love for God. It brings great joy to Mary when we come to her and ask her help to come closer to Jesus. God thrives on requests for help, and Mary is always there to help us place these needs before the Father.
Sinners belong to Jesus, and Mary encourages them to turn to Jesus, her Son. Don't make the mistake of thinking that you are too great a sinner to belong. If you are a sinner as great as St. Augustine or St. Paul, you belong. If you think that members of your family are hopelessly lost, that isn't what St. Ambrose allowed St. Monica to believe about St. Augustine. "Woman, it is impossible for the son of a mother who has wept as much as you have wept and prayed as much as you have prayed, to be lost." She got off his case and within one year Augustine was baptized.
Take your hopeless cases to Mary and allow her to glorify her son by interceding for them. RELATED ARTICLE(S):I thought you should know | The forgiveness of sins is more than a private matter