4TH SUNDAY OF ADVENT - B
For the past three Sundays we have been reflecting on the life and message of John the Baptist as he prepares and guides us in the coming of Jesus. This fourth Sunday of Advent, we turn our gaze to Mary, the ultimate guide to the Mystery of the Incarnation.
Right after the Fall of Man in the Old Testament, God promised a Messiah through a woman (Gen 3:15). It could have been easier for God to grant outright redemption right there and then but he had a plan which we call History of Salvation. If a woman was the reason of the Fall of man, then it would be through another woman that man would be saved. It took thousands of years for God to carry out his plan and it took the same length of time to create that woman who would be the instrument for the salvation of man. In the language of St. Paul, the Messiah was born in the fullness of time through a woman (Gal 4:4). That woman is Mary.
In the Annunciation we see first and foremost the faithfulness of God who in his graciousness fulfilled his promise of old. Secondly we also see God’s humility by asking a woman, his mere creature a favor. God could have just told Mary that she was chosen by him and that she was already conceiving the Messiah. But out of God’s deep respect for freedom of the will, he asked Mary: “Would you be my instrument so that I can become a man?” It was that very moment when heaven and earth stood still and almost hang in a balance when God awaited for Mary’s response… a moment in history God has been awaiting for. In all her humility, Mary said her Fiat, an abandoning and wholehearted YES: “May it be done according to your word”! And that very instant, the Second Person of the Trinity became a human being. This glorious spark in history was made possible through the meeting of the faithfulness and humility of God and Mary.
Did Mary understand everything? Was everything glorious? No! Not all! Mary, although favored by God, was an ordinary and simple woman who had to struggle in understanding the ways of God. Not everything was a rose garden for her. Yet Luke gives us a hint in the greatness of this woman: “Mary treasured all these words and pondered them in her heart” (Lk 2:19).
What is this Mary’s Annunciation to us? Just like the Israelites who waited for the coming of their Messiah, we have been waiting and longing for the coming of Jesus. How open are we to cooperate in the Incarnation of God in the present time? Just as God needed the cooperation of Mary for Jesus to be born, he wants our participation in the further incarnation of Jesus. He wants our personal yes!
Fullness of life consists in abandoning our life to the will of God even if his ways are odd and difficult to understand. If we do this, then God will accomplish great things for us because for him nothing is impossible. Like Mary, we just have to say YES!