FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

 

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

 

 

 

The choice that leads to fullness

 

In today’s Gospel we celebrate the extravagant love of God who freely chose Mary to be the mother of his beloved Son.  There is no point in asking what Mary did to deserve being such a chosen one – a woman filled with God’s grace. Mary did nothing to deserve it, because this call, this grace was sheer gift.  Nobody deserves gifts; nobody is entitled to favours. Gifts and favours reflect the generosity of the giver, not the worthiness of the receiver.

 

In a village, a father lived with his young son and daughter.  He was an upright man and an excellent lawyer who chose to defend a man accused of murder even though this made him a very unpopular man.  Down the road lived an elderly woman who every afternoon ridiculed and swore at the children when they passed her house.  The young boy felt very angry and embarrassed about the names she called his father.  One evening the boy decided to take revenge and went to this old ladies garden and destroyed some of her flowers.  The boy told his father what he did, saying he did that in order to honour the name of his father.

 

The father, being an upright man, chose to correct his child and said that his son had to go to the lady to apologize.  Reluctantly the son did so.  To make up for the damage the son caused in the garden the father asked him to read to her for an hour each afternoon.  Again he struggled to acquiesce but he chose to do what he was asked, so every afternoon he and his sister went and read for the women.  At the beginning they were very frightened as she took fits, but as the days went buy these seizures lessened.  Not long after this old lady died. The father explained to the children that she was suffering withdrawal symptoms from a drug prescribed for her by a doctor. Before she died she had asked the father to thank the children for reading to her.  These hours made it possible for her to cope with the seizures and because of their choice to read to her, they eventually stopped. The father chose for the children an opportunity to serve and they responded with a ‘yes’.  This response to serve and give time to this old lady was not an end in itself - it resulted in reconciliation and healing.

 

The Gospel today does not begin with what Mary does; it begins with what God does through Mary. When God chooses Mary to be Mother of his son it was not as a reward for dedicated work or an answer to Mary’s prayer.  God’s choice of Mary is the result of God’s freedom to choose Mary from among all women.  This choice made her worthy, as his love has made her full of grace and so Mary could pray: ‘My soul glorifies the Lord, and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour because He as looked on the lowliness of his handmaid’.God graced Mary with a mission that was not for herself. Her mission was birthed in the plan of God which was to give Jesus to every generation of the human family.  Being chosen by God for such a task does not free Mary from making her choice for God.  Mary was asked to put her freedom, her whole person at the service of God’s plan and she had to give her free ‘yes’ to this call.

 

St Paul says: ‘God has chosen all of us, choose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence. (Eph 1).  We too are challenged to say ‘yes’ to God’s choice of each of us,waiting that we will freely put our freedom at his service. God has a role for each of us.  Can we in the spirit of Mary hear our own personal call:  ‘rejoice oh highly favoured one, for I have chosen you to be holy and to live through love in my presence. Through you I am able to bring reconciliation and healing into the world.You!!! Yes, you!!  Rejoice.

Sr. Sylvia OP

 

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