GOD’S PLAN OF LOVE FOR US
Today is the fourth and last Sunday of Advent. Today’s readings focus on the circumstances leading up to the first coming of Jesus which sets the pattern for his coming to us now and at the end of time. We are reminded to be obedient to God and use our freedom to carry out God’s will. As St. Augustine says “God, who created us without our consent, will not save us without our cooperation.”
In our first reading, in appreciation of God’s love, David wished to build a house for God. However, God would not allow him. Instead, God made a promise to David, and sealed it with a covenant: “…I will preserve the offspring of your body after you…I will be a father to him, and he will be a son to me …your throne will be established forever” This promise and covenant is what we expect to be fulfilled soon.
What a wonderful account of David and of David’s desire to build a house for the Lord! The point of this account, however, is that all of us must recognize that God is the center of life and not us. At one level we can do nothing for God. That should not stop us from trying to do everything for God! Even though all we have comes from God, we can still return His love by striving to live for Him and striving to be faithful to all that He asks of us. This is a normal, natural response to knowing the love of God.
God did not allow David to build a house for Him rather God assured David he would build a house for him, and not just a temporary palace, but a power structure that will accommodate his offspring who will be future kings. Through this promise God gave to David more than what he asked for and imagined. As it is written, “Eye has not seen, nor ear heard, nor have entered into the heart of man. The things, which God has prepared for those who love Him”. (1 Corinthians 2:9) God has a master plan for you and your family. In Jer 29:11, the Prophet reminds us that the Lord has plans of good and not of disaster for us. Do you trust in God’s plan for you? Whenever you find it very hard to believe God due to the pains you are passing through, check it up how many times it is emphasized that nothing is impossible for Him to do for you and that He has better plans for you – Gen 18:14; Jer 32:27, 32:17; Zech 8:6; Matt. 19:26.
In the two annunciations described in Luke’s Gospel, neither Elizabeth (Zechariah's wife) nor Mary appears to be a likely candidate for motherhood. Elizabeth is too old and Mary is a virgin engaged to Joseph, of the house of David (v. 27). Joseph’s betrothal to Mary was binding, and it made Mary his legal wife. The angel's salutation to Mary, “Hail, full of grace,” reminds us of God's words to Moses at the burning bush, "I will be with you" (Ex 3:12), the angel’s salutation Gideon, "The Lord is with you, you mighty warrior" (Jgs 6:12) and the Lord's assurance to Jeremiah, "Be not afraid of their faces: for I am with thee to deliver thee" (Jer 1:8).
“For nothing will be impossible with God.” It is ironic that Zechariah, who asked for a sign, was punished (1:20), while Mary, who did not ask for a sign, was given one. If Mary wanted to know how she could bear a son while remaining a virgin, she need only to look to her kinswoman Elizabeth who, despite her age, was pregnant. If God could create new life in old woman, He could surely do the same in a young virgin. “For nothing will be impossible with God". (v. 37) We must appreciate the fact that as we walk with the Lord, no situation is beyond redemption. As Archbishop Sheen says, “God walks into your soul with silent step. God comes to you more than you go to him. Never will his coming be what you expect, and yet never will it disappoint.”
After the Angel came to announce the good news to Mary, she gave her unequivocal response – Divine Fiat – “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done” (Luke 1:38). As simply as that, Mary says Yes to God’s invitation. She gives her whole life away, its hopes, dreams and promises, to possess only the angel’s assurance: “The Lord is with you.” Nothing else was wanted or needed. To be one with God, mother of his son, was heaven come to earth.
Mary’s obedience to God did not take away or limit her freedom; rather it perfected her freedom for it enabled her to conform herself to her original ideal as image and likeness of God. More importantly, however, her obedience is the fruit of her steadfast and indomitable faith in God. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, exclaimed, “Blessed is who trusted that God’s words to her would be fulfilled” (Lk 1:45). Her faith made it possible for her to obey the will of God, all the more perfecting her freedom as the most faithful image and likeness of God. This woman of faith, Mary of Nazareth, is the true model in our pilgrimage of faith. Mary is the second Eve. By her simple faith and unconditional fiat, she reversed the disobedience of the first Eve. While Eve brought sin and death, Mary, the New Eve, brought forth into the world the Savior of mankind. Mary undid what Eve has done.
Pope Benedict XVI has a beautiful insight on the importance of Mary in our life. He said that when Christ was born, every creature offered a sign of gratitude: the angels, a hymn; the heavens, a star; the Magi, gifts; the shepherds, admiration; the earth, a cave. But, asked the Holy Father, what about the human race? What do we have to offer to God? The Pope said that what we have to offer is the Virgin Mary herself. She is the greatest boast, the greatest honor of our human race. She shows what humanity is capable of. When we look at the Blessed Virgin Mary, we recognize the true capacity of our human nature.
What is the key that unlocks the power and grace of God’s kingdom in our personal lives? Faith and obedience for sure! God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willing obedience and heartfelt trust as Mary did. When God commands he also gives the help and means to respond. We can either yield to his grace or resist and go our own way. Do you believe in God's promises and do you yield to his grace?
St. Francis said, "We are the mother of Christ when we carry him in our heart… and we give birth to him through our holy works which ought to shine on others by our example.”
Prayer – We ask the intercession of Mary our Mother to help sweep away the clutter of our hearts and minds that God alone might be all we desire and truly need. Amen!!!