Announcement of the Birth of Jesus
OTHER HOMILY SOURCES:
Stories about the Infant Jesus abound. Among the many stories, the following is my favorite which is actually a legend involving St. Jerome as narrated in Father Arthur Tonne’s book. One Christmas night, right in the very grotto at Bethlehem, St. Jerome was praying and thinking about the birth of Jesus. Suddenly our Lord appeared to him as an infant surrounded by a dazzlinglight.
“Jerome,” the Infant asked, “what are you giving me for my birthday?” ‘Divine Infant,” replied the saint, ‘I give you my heart.”
“Yes, but give me something more.” “I give you all that I am.”
“There is still something more that I want.” “Divine Infant, I have nothing more. What is that I can give you?”
“Jerome give me your sins. Give me your sins that I may pardon all of them.”
“Divine Babe,” exclaimed the saint, “You make me weep.”
And the strong man, filled with love of the Infant Jesus, wept for joy.
What does the story tell us? Simple – we can please the Infant Jesus by giving him our sins through confession, that we may prepare a clean and fresh heart for his coming in the Holy Eucharist. (Fr. Fred Reyes, SVD Bible Diary 2002)nobody deserves gifts; nobody is entitled to favors. Gifts and favors reflect the generosity of the giver, not the worthiness of the receiver.
If you notice, the gospel does not begin with what Mary does; it begins with what God does through Mary. When Mary is chosen to be the mother of God’s Son, God’s choice of her not a reward for a dedicated work or an answer to Mary’s prayer. Rather, God’s choice of Mary is the result of God’s freedom to choose Mary from among all women; his choice makes her worthy, as his love has made her full of grace. This truth is reflected in what Mary said: “My soul glorifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior for He has looked on the lowliness of his handmaid. Yes, from this day forward, all generations will call me blessed for the Almighty has done great things for me.”
Because of God’s mysterious preference, because he has freely chosen to look on Mary in such a way, because he has made her full of grace, all generations – as we today – call her blessed. For God graced Mary for a purpose, for a mission that was not for herself: her mission in the plan of God was to give Jesus to every generation of the human family.
Some people suspect that because Mary was so blest by God, this makes her no longer really human. Certainly, Mary has a unique role to play in history; as the Church teaches, she “occupies a place in the church which is the highest after Christ and closest to us.” But being chosen by God for such a task does not exclude Mary from the human race; God’s choice of her does not free her from making her choice of God. Mary was asked to put her freedom, her whole person at the service of God’s plan.
The difference between us and Mary is not that Mary was chosen while we are not; rather, it is that she fully responded to be chosen for her role while we remain hesitant and half-hearted about responding to what God asks of us. God has chosen all of us. This great truth was expressed by St. Paul when he wrote: “God chose us, chose us in Christ, to be holy and spotless and to live through love in his presence,” (Eph 1).
Like Mary, we face God’s choice of us: like her, we are challenged to say yes. If we could see ourselves as the result of God’s choice rather than a mobile mistake, we might be keener to say yes! God has chosen every single person; he has a role for each of us. He waits for our choice and puts our freedom at his service.
God’s word to Mary in today’s gospel is a word of supreme value: “Rejoice, highly favored.” Perhaps we do not really believe that God favors us, maybe we have reached the stage where we don’t think we are worth anything anyway. So today, let that be God’s word to you: “Rejoice, highly favored,” for I have chosen you to be holy and to live through in my presence. Yes, you! Rejoice. (Fr. Deng Fabiosa, SVD Bible Diary 2004)
There is a fairytale about a prince who went into a serious training to win the heart of a princess. He tried every charm in his book, but she had her eyes fixed elsewhere and married a penniless woodcutter who didn’t do anything to win her favor. The woodcutter was chosen because of the mysterious preference of the princess’ love. And the prince was left to wonder why he couldn’t earn the love of the princess. After all he had done all the right things.
Like our friend, the bewildered prince, when we see how some people are chosen we ask, “What did they do to deserve that?” we presume that they must have done something special and we get tangled up trying to scrutinize their performance for some clue. And in all this we forget the freedom of the one who chose them in the first place.
In today’s gospel we celebrate the extravagant love of God who freely chose Mary to be the Mother of His beloved Son. God’s choice of Mary made her “full of grace.” If grace is God’s gift, Mary was full of God’s gift. There is no point in asking what Mary did to deserve that: she didn’t do anything to deserve it, because it was sheer gift.
All the great OT women hoped to be what Mary was – the mother of Jesus, the Redeemer. But she was his mother in a very special way: He chose her to be his mother. None of us could ever do that with our mother. God designed her to be Jesus’ mother but he also respected her. He had to get her consent.
Now just imagine that you had a chance to choose you own mother. Would you not give her all the best qualities you could find? She would be the most perfect, nicest person in the world. Remember that since Jesus had no human father, he inherited all his human qualities from her. He must have looked, spoke and acted very much like her.
The non-Catholic poet Wordsworth has written of Mary: “She is our tainted Nature’s solitary boast.” We think that it is completely natural and normal for any son to be honored and pleased if we honor his mother. We also believe that it is natural for any treasured mother to have a special influence with her son. That is why we ask Mary to stand by us as we pray. We hardly ever say the Our Father without automatically adding the Hail Mary. As a little story has it, once a king invited a little child to take as many candies it could fit his hand. The little child said to the king, “I would rather have my mommy take them for me; she has a bigger hand.”
Mary is surely the favorite person in Christ’s life, even now. Should she not also be the same in our life? ( Fr. Frank Mihalic, SVD Bible Diary 2006)
Once a Japanese confided to his American doctor: “Me no come. She no come. But baby come! How come?”
In today’s gospel episode of the annunciation, a puzzled Joseph, who was betrothed to Mary, could have said the same thing when he found out that Mary was pregnant and yet they did not live together.
But the angel said to Mary, “You will conceive and bear a son.” Mary replied: “How can this be since I have no relations with a man?” and the said in reply: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
Mary said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” With these words, she expressed her fiat or consent.
We can say Mary was blessed because she was told of God’s will through an angel. How about us, ordinary mortals? How can we know His will in our life”
A distraught lady once called me up, complaining: “I had my car repainted but what turned out was clearly a rip-off. To think that I’d paid the full amount. Disgusted, I contracted another mechanic-painter. I had high hopes the job would turn out to my expectation since the guy advertized his services in the car promo exhibition. Pero palpak na naman.
“Why did God not help me since I’m always praying?” what did you expect God would do?” I asked. ‘Well, that he would give me a sign against the services of these incompetent painters!”
Discreetly, I told the lady that God does not ordinarily work that way. If He enlightens you by some private revelation or sign, fine. But God does not easily dispense miracles nowadays. God works through our talents, our decisions and judgments.
People today are asking, “How can I know the will of God? How do I know if God wants this or that to be my partner for life….or this kind of business or this religious vocation?”
God works through secondary causes. After praying and discerning over a problem, it would be prudent to ask the advice and guidance of relatives, friends and others who are knowledgeable on the matter.
Another way of knowing God’s will is through the Scriptures, the word of God. Likewise the church is our sure guide when it comes to faith and morals.
The will of God is further manifested to us in the duties and responsibilities of our state of life. And, very concretely, it is seen in the particular circumstances of our life, or in the so-called “signs of the times.”
St. Alphonsus de Liguouri once said: “All holiness consists in the love of God; but the love of God consists in conformity to the will of God; therefore, all holiness consists in conformity to the will of God.”
Just as Jesus always sought God’s will, we should likewise do the same. And more importantly, DO it. (Fr. Bel San Luis, SVD Bible Diary 2007)
December 20, 2016 Tuesday
A European lived in Botswana for many years, but had to leave the country after a falling-out with his wife and children. He sought refuge in Kenya but overstayed after his visa expired, got caught, and was jailed. Going back to his country of birth was not an option as he didn’t know any living family member there anymore. Besides, the country had just passed a law which terminated the citizenship of anyone who had been living in another country for a number of years. No country to call his own, the man was homeless, penniless, and lost.
It is difficult to live with nobody to call family and no place to call home. Yet many exiles, migrants and refugees are in this situation. The 2013 UNHR figure puts the number of refugees at 16.7 million. Living as a refugee is by far one of the most humiliating, shattering and defenseless experiences a person can go through.
Today’s gospel tells us of Angel Gabriel’s appearance to Mary and the news he brought to her. Mary’s ‘ at’ to become the Mother of our Savior was indeed good news to Jesus, the Good News to us all. By accepting to bear the Messiah in her womb, Mary saw to it that the Savior would have a family to call His own and a place to call His home.
We are in the fourth week of Advent, and Christmas Day is nearing. In this season, we remember our families and loved ones and think of home. We are blessed if we still have them with us and if we are still living in a place we call home. Mary gifted Jesus with family and home. May we do the same to others, not just to our loved ones. (Fr. Sisoy Cellan, SVD | Kenya Bible Diary 2016)
POWER OF GOD, PURITY OF HEART. The story of annunciation is very familiar. In fact, this gospel text is read at many other times of the year. Because of the familiarity of the text,, it might also lose its power over us. Just for the sake of recall, the Annunciation text has three components.
First, the power of God is given to human beings. It is power from above.. that was the angel’s greeting: “The power of the Most High will overshadow you.” The love of God is sent to human beings and because the love of God is sent to human beings, human beings are no longer the same. One who is touched with the grace of God always changes. The power of God is always given to those who ask for it and to those who do not ask for it. The Spirit of God comes upon us.
The second component of today’s gospel is that the power of God is met by the purity of human hearts, the purity of Mary’s heart. The virginity of Mary is met with a power given by God and when power given by God and the purity of hearts of human beings come together, a mathematical equation can be put on the board: POWER + PURITY = PRESENCE. Because the power of God was met with the purity of the human heart, then God is made present in the world. Because of power of God is met with the virginity of Mary’s heart, God becomes present in the world. The Word is made Flesh and God takes human flesh. God can be touched, God can be experienced and God can be seen because the power of God is met with the purity of the human heart.
The story of Annunciation does not end with Mary. The story of Annunciation continues up to this day no longer through Mary alone but through us. The power of God continues to be sent to us. The power of God continues to be given to us. But presence is not accomplished because that power is not met by purity of heart. The power is not met with human acceptance. The power is not met with words like, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. Let it be done to me as you say.” The power is not met with the words, “How can this be since I do not know man.”
We are running out of virgins and we are running out of pure people. We are running out of saints. We are running out of heroes. We can only really understand true power if that power of God is received by heroes and saints. If the power of God is always met by purity and virginity, then we won’t have to go looking for God. Every person will be Mary, giving birth to Jesus in the Third Millennium.
Keep those thoughts in mind because if we cannot find God in the world right now, it is not because God is lacking in power. It can only be because we are lacking in cooperation. It is not because God is stingy in sharing His Spirit. It is only because we can no longer say, “How can this be, I am a virgin.” It is because we can no longer say, “Let it be done to me. Not my will but yours be done.”
That is why the Season of Advent is colored purple. Purple is the color of conversion. Purple is the color of repentance. Let us have a good Christmas by reconciling with God and with one another. Let us go to confession, make our hearts pure. If only the power of God is always met by purity, by cooperation, then we would have no problem with God being always present in the world, experienced by all of us. (Bp. Soc Villegas Love Like Jesus pp. 130-131)
Posting also the 5th Day…
5th Day, 20th December Year A: God fulfills his promise…
Readings: Isaiah 7: 10-14; Luke 1: 26-38
The short reflection on the 5th day of Misa de Gallo is taken from the Gospel reading: “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’.” (Luke 1: 30-31)
In Mary, God has fulfilled his promise to humankind… a son with power of the Most High who shall rule over the whole creation forever and his kingdom will have no end. Mary is our “connectivity” with Jesus, the Lord.
Mary is an abiding presence in the life of her son, Jesus, and in the life of the apostles and the early Church. At the Cenacle, Mary, the mother of the Lord, stayed with the disciples as they await the coming down of the Holy Spirit.
Presence is a noun, not a verb; it is a state of being, not doing. States of being are not highly valued in a culture which places a high priority on doing. Yet, true presence or “being with” another person carries with it a silent power — to bear witness to a passage, to help carry an emotional burden or to begin a healing process. In it, there is an intimate connection with another
We allow our Blessed Mother, the mother of the Lord, to be present with us as we journey through life. It is a presence that often and repeatedly strikes us by the healing power of connection created simply by being fully there in the quiet understanding of another. In it, none of us are truly alone.
The power of presence is not a one-way street, not only something we give to others. It always changes us, and always for the better. Bapa Jun Mercado, OMI facebook.com/jun.mercado
MISA DE GALLO DECEMBER 20 – LUKAS 1:26-38. Unsa may gidala nga mensahe sa pagkahimugso sa batang Jesus? Sa ebanghelyo ni San Lukas, si Arkanghel Gabriel nag-ingon kang Maria: “Ayaw na kahadlok kay gikahimut-an ka sa Dios. Ug tan-awa, manamkon ka sa imong sabakan ug matawo kanimo ang anak nga lalaki ug panganlan mo siya og Jesus.” Ang ngalan nga Jesus nagagikan sa Griyegong “Iesous”, nga tugbang sa Aramaic nga ngalan “Yeshu’a”. Sa mga Judio, ang maong pangalan adunay kalambigitan sa buhat sa pagpangluwas. Sa ebanghelyo ni San Mateo (1:20), ang anghel nagpahibalo kang Jose pinaagi sa damgo nga ang iyang sinayoran nga si Maria manganak og usa ka batang lalaki nga pagatawgon og Jesus kay luwason niya ang katawhan sa ilang mga sala. Daygon ug pasalamatan nato ang Dios tungod sa Iyang paghatag kanato og Manluluwas diha kang Jesus. Posted by Abet Uy
(English) Luke 1: 26-38. What brought the message of the birth of the baby Jesus?In the Gospel of Luke, the Archangel Gabriel said to Mary: “Fear not, for you have found favor with God. And behold, you are to conceive in your womb and be born of thee a son, and you are to give him Jesus. “The name comes from the Greek” Iesous “, which corresponds to the Aramaic name” Yeshu’a “. The Jews, the name is linked to the work of salvation. In the Gospel of Matthew (1:20), the angel told Joseph in a dream that he is engaged to Mary give birth to a boy called Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins. We praise and thank God because He gave us a Savior in Jesus
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
DECEMBER 20 – LUKAS 1:26-38. UNSA MAY ATONG BUHATON KON ADUNAY MAHITABO SA ATONG KINABUHI NGA LISOD SABTON? Human sa pagpahibalo sa anghel, si Maria miingon: “Ulay ako, busa unsaon man pagkahimo niini?” Nangutana siya dili tungod kay wala siya motuo kondili tungod kay lisod man sabton ang mensahe sa anghel. Unsaon man niya pagmabdos nga wala man siya makighilawas sa iyang minahal nga si Jose? Apan, bisan sa kalibog, si Maria misalig sa gahum sa Dios ug miingon: “Sulugoon ako sa Ginoo, mahitabo unta kanako ang imong gisulti.” Kining ebanghelyo magdasig kanato sa pagsalig sa makaluwas nga gahum sa Dios. Walay dili mahimo ang Dios ug Siya ang labing nasayod unsay maayo para kanato. Sakto ang tambag: “God has a reason for allowing things to happen. We may never understand His wisdom, but we simply have to trust His will.” Posted by Abet Uy
ANG BELEN SA PUSO MO: Reflection for 5th DAY OF CHRISTMAS NOVENA – SIMBANG GABI – Decenber 20, 2014 – YEAR OF THE POOR
Uso pa ba ngayon ang Belen? Upang matawag na Belen dapat ay naglalaman ito ng mga imahe nina Jesus, Maria at Jose. Dapat din ay naroroon ang mga imahe ng mga pastol, ng mga wise men, ng mga hayop. Kapag may kulang puwedeng sabihing hindi kumpleto ang Belen at dahil siyan WALANG BELEN! Ang Belen marahil ang isa sa pinakapopular na simbolo ng Pasko ngunit dati iyon! Maraming bansa ngayon ang wala ng Belen! Sa Amerika na namumuhay na sa sekularismo ay masasabing wala ng Belen sapagkat WALA NA SILANG WISE MEN! Sa Japan na napakaprogressibo ang teknolohiya at marangya ang pamumuhay wala ring Belen sapagkat WALA NG POOR shepherds, Sa Amsterdam na kung saan ay legal ang prostitusyon at pornograpiya ay wala ring Belen sapagkat WALA NG VIRGIN! Pero ibahain natin ang Pinas! Dito sa atin ay maraming Belen! Bakit? Sapagkat MARAMING HAYUP! Ayun naglipana sa Kongresso at Senado at nakapang amerikana pa na may kurbata! Marami rin tayong WISE MEN!Tulad nina TATA LINO! Marami ring POOR shepherds sapagkat nagkalat sa ating lansangan ang mga taong grasa! Marmi ring VIRGINS. Sa katunayan ay may softdrinks pa nga na ang pangalan ay VIRGIN! Pero higit sa lahat, tayo ay DAPAT MAY BELEN sapagkat tayo ay mga taong PIINAGHAHARIAN NG DIYOS! Marami pa rin sa atin ang kumikilala sa Diyos at may takot sa Kanya! Marami pa rin sa atn ang naniniwala na isinugo ng Diyos ang Kanyang bugtong na Anak upang tayo ay maligtas! Sa ating Ebanghelyo ngayon ay ikinuwento sa atin kung papaano ipinanganak ang Mesiyas ayon sa propesiya ng Lumang Tipan. “Maglilihi ang isang dalaga at manganganak ng lalaki na tatawaging Emmanuel na ang ibig sabihin ay “Ang Diyos ay sumasaatin!” At ito nga ay naisakatupara ng Dinalaw ng Anghel Gabriel ang isang dalaga sa Nazaret na ang pangalan ay Maria. “Matuwa ka! Ikaw ay kalugod-lugod sa Diyos! Sumasaiyo ang Panginoon!” wika ng Anghel Gabriel. At ipinahayag niya na siya ang magiging ina ng Tagapagligatas na papangalanan niyang Jesus! Ang sagot ni Maria ang nagsakatuparan ng plano ng Diyos: “Mangyari nawa as akin ayon sa wika mo!” Ang tapong ito ay nagpapakita at nagpapaalala sa atin ng KATAPATAN ng Diyos. Na sa kabila ng ating pagkasalawahan ay may Diyos na nakakaunawa sa atin. At hinihingi naman Niya sa atin ay katapatan din sa ating pagtugon. Nangangahulugan ito ng pagsasabuhay ng ating mga pangako sa binyag at pagpapahalaga sa ating pangalang KRISTIYANO. Sikapin nating maging tapat lagi kay Kristo at huwag ikahiya ang pangalang ito. Maging saksi tayo ng Kristo sa ating tahanan, lugar ng paggawa, paaralan at sa ating pakikitungo sa isa’t isa. Huwag natng dungisan ang pangalang Kristo na nakakabit sa ating pagkatao. Ang Belen ay hindi lamang dapat makikita sa labas ng bahay bilang palamuti o dekorasyon. Ang mensahe ng Belen na KATAPATAN ay dapat nakatangghal sa ating mga puso at ibinabahagi natin ito sa ating kapawa. Ang Belen ay dapat nasa PUSO MO!
Ipinaskil ni kalakbay ng kabataan
Tuesday, December 20, 2016
Reflection for Tuesday December 20, Fourth Week in Advent; Luke 1:26-38
Why was the Blessed Mother favored by God? Why was she chosen amongst many women? She was favored because of her humility and docility, she was favored because God saw in her a saintly character which He did not found with any women during that time. Therefore the Blessed Mother was given the singular honor to carry in her womb our savior.
So you might say I would also want to be humble because I also expect to receive some blessings from God. That’s ok nothing is wrong with this kind of mindset. However, we must remember that the Blessed Mother is humble and docile not because she was vying to be chosen as the dwelling place of the son of God.
To be humble and docile was her natural character. There was no pretension or any sort of fake humility in her system. In other words as far as the Blessed Mother is concerned, what we see is what we get from her. If we see her as humble and docile to the will of God the Father, she really is humble and docile.
In so many ways, God also announces His will for us and what is His will for us? It’s for us to live simple and humble lives. Many of us live complicated lifestyle instead of a simple lifestyle and many of us are so full of egotism in our system. What is the result of this kind of lifestyle and behavior we fail to hear the voice of God and we fail to hear the guidance of God us well.
Unlike many of us the Blessed Mother lived a simple and humble lifestyle thus she heard and humbly obeyed the voice of God. – Marino J. Dasmarinas
A NECESSARY CONDITION OF WORKING WITH GOD – When the angel Gabriel was sent to Mary, it was all about offering this humble maiden of Nazareth a partnership of life. Mary was chosen to be the bearer of the Messiah. For this reason, today’s novena Mass for Christmas is referred to with a special name: “Missa Aurea” (Golden Mass). We rejoice in God’s choice of a Mother for Jesus, Our Savior. This made the gift of salvation even closer.
Many times during our liturgical celebrations, we read and proclaim today’s Gospel. A few days ago we had this Gospel in the Solemn Feast of the Immaculate Conception. Let us point out, though, a familiar part of the narrative that we gloss over: the elaboration of the angel about Mary’s Motherhood of the Divine Messiah, the “mechanics” on how the Messiah will be born as God-Man. The angel proclaims to Mary the following terms: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you;” “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus;” “He will be Great, and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father.”
Flesh should come from flesh. Mary is Jesus’ Mother in a very uniquesense. All the humanity of Jesus will be from her, from her womb — genetics and chromosomes and all from the Jewish maiden of Nazareth. However, Jesus shall be greater than the Mother: He is divine, and His height and depth is His divinity. Jesus is totally therefore one with the heavenly Father. His ultimate and absolute loyalty is with the heavenly Father whom He calls “Abba,” not with Mary. Mary is, as she referred herself to be, a humble servant, a handmaid.
The story of Christmas reminds us that God wants to work with us. But this happens according to His terms, not ours. Fr. Domie Guzman, SSP
REFLECTION QUESTIONS: In what way is your life now a project in partnership with God? What divine terms are involved with your life-project with God?
I entrust to You, Lord, my whole life. Work with me and in me, according to Your will. Amen.
Tuesday of the 4th Week of Advent
Is 7: 10-14; Ps 23: 1-2. 3-4ab. 5-6; Lk 1: 26-38
Am I a Servant or a Master
The new Era of Salvation
With this scene of Announcement, we see the unfolding of God’s plan of redemption in the events leading up to the Incarnation, the birth of the Messiah. The new era of salvation begins with the conception of Jesus in the womb of Mary. This child to be born is conceived by the gracious action of the Holy Spirit upon Mary, who finds favour with God. As Eve was the mother of all humanity doomed to sin, now Mary becomes the mother of the new Adam who will father a new humanity by his grace (Romans 5:12-21). This child to be conceived in her womb is the fulfilment of all Godâ€™s promises. He will be â€œgreatâ€ and â€œSon of the Most Highâ€ and â€œKingâ€ (Luke 1:32-33), and his name shall be called â€œJesusâ€, which means â€œthe Lord savesâ€. â€œHe will save his people from their sinsâ€ (Matthew 1:21). The promise of an everlasting kingdom to the house of David (Isaiah 9:6-7) is fulfilled in the King to be born in Maryâ€™s womb.
Mary, the Main Character of Todayâ€™s Episode
Although Nazareth was off the beaten track and a sleepy enough place, Maryâ€™s experience ranged far beyond the confines of the little village. There is a bustle about her going â€˜with hasteâ€™ to visit her cousin Elizabeth in the hill country of Judah. She travelled to Bethlehem for the census and after that to Egypt. Every year, Joseph and Mary went up to Jerusalem. She went to Capernaum with Jesus and his disciples (Jn.2:12) and was back again in Jerusalem for the fateful days of the Passion (Jn.19:25-27). The last we hear of her in the Upper Room with the apostles, some other women and the brothers of Jesus united in prayer (Acts 1.14). To some extent she joined her son in his ministry. She goes with the group to Capernaum and Jerusalem. The Gospel of Luke notes the thoughtful, reflective aspect of Mary. On two occasions, he describes her mulling over the whole thing in her mind as she went about her life (Lk.2:19, 51). The â€˜Magnificatâ€™ tells of her radical sense of justice and her ability to express trenchant social criticism (Lk.1:46-55). Her face would have reflected many an emotion: tense with fear on the flight to Egypt, calm in repose, warm in love, cross with anxiety when they found the child in Jerusalem.
The Gospel passage of today tells us four things about Mary:
- The Facts of Mary’s Life (1:26-28):The Angel’s announcement takes place six months after Elizabeth’s pregnancy with John the Baptist. Mary lived in the village of Nazareth, in the hilly area southwest of the Sea of Galilee. We’re also told that Mary was a virgin, betrothed but not yet married. This gives us some clues about her age from contemporary sources that young women often were betrothed for a full year before their actual marriage ceremony, and that she was probably a very young teenager. Her husband-to-be is Joseph, who is a descendent of Israel’s greatest king, David. Mary’s ancestry is more complex. We know that Mary’s relative Elizabeth was a descendent of the original high priest, Aaron, of the tribe of Levi (1:5). But Mary also may be a descendent herself of David of the tribe of Judah on her father’s side (1:32).
- The Fear in Mary’s Heart (1:29-30):How does Mary respond to the word of God delivered by the angel Gabriel? As a teenager, Mary is quite taken aback by the Angel Gabriel’s words. Luke says that Mary was greatly troubled. The Greek word is diatarasso, which means to “confuse, perplex.” Gabriel counters with the words “Do not be afraid, Mary,” using the word â€˜phobeoâ€™, from which we get our English word “phobia”. Was Mary afraid? Whenever we meet something new and strange, we get confused and the patterns, that we are used to, are disrupted whereby little alarms go off in our head. That’s the way God made us to respond to change. It is a kind of built-in defence mechanism. Mary felt this alarm system, but we see the edifying response of Mary who accepted the angel’s “Fear not” at face value. We often respond to such situations out of fear rather than out of faith. We must resist entrenched fear since it is the breeding ground for unbelief which should not control us.
- The Wonder in Mary’s Mind (1:31-34):Gabriel explains that Mary will become pregnant and give birth to Jesus, the Messiah. She knew she was hearing something beyond human capability. It would surely take a miracle which surpasses all that God has done previously. Her question, â€œhow shall this be, since I have no husbandâ€ is not prompted by doubt or scepticism, but by wonderment! Consider her question: “How will this be, since I am a virgin?” Some people say we shouldn’t question God, but Mary did. She asked “How?” to God since the questions cause us to grow and learn. Questions stretch our minds and hearts and increase our understanding. Questions and the exploration for their answers contribute to our faith, even if the questions themselves may ultimately go unanswered. Mary’s question arose from faith, not doubt.
- The Submission in Mary’s Spirit (1:35-38):She is a true hearer of the Word and she immediately responds with faith and trust. Mary’s prompt response of “yes” to the divine message is a model of faith for all believers. Mary believed God’s promises even when they seemed impossible. She was full of grace because she trusted that what God said was true and would be fulfilled. She was willing and eager to do God’s will, even if it seemed difficult and costly. Here a teenager is going to face misunderstanding and rejection from her family, her betrothed, and her townspeople and even death by stoning for adultery. And yet she agrees. Mary affirms the bedrock truth that undergirds our discipleship: “I am the Lord’s servant.”
In our own life situations after exploring all the possibilities open before us, we have to ask, â€œAm I a Servant or a Master?â€ Is my allegiance to the Lord or to my own desires? Sometimes it takes great turmoil in our souls to come to the place of submission. Even before Jesus was conceived, Mary was faced with the decision: â€œShould I obey and make way for this King or take the easy way that avoids difficulty and pain?â€ To her everlasting credit, Mary’s response of faith is what our response must be: “I am the Lord’s servant. May it be to me as you have said!” God gives us grace and he expects us to respond with the same willingness, obedience, and heart-felt trust as Mary did. When God commands to walk through stony paths he must believe that he will also provide us with strong shoes! 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?
Help me to live a grace-filled life as Mary did by believing in your promises and by giving you my unqualified “yes” to your will and plan for my life.” Dr. John
December 20, 2016
Yesterday’s gospel reading presented us with the angel Gabriel’s annunciation to Zechariah of the birth of John the Baptist, and today’s gospel reading presents us with the angel’s annunciation to Mary of the birth of Jesus. Obviously these two scenes are similar and parallel, all the more so that they follow each other in the same chapter of the gospel text. They invite a comparison between the protagonists.
Zechariah is skeptical and withholds his acceptance of Gabriel’s announcement: “How can I believe this?” he asks. But Mary’s attitude is quite different. She accepts Gabriel’s announcement unreservedly. She is just puzzled as to the manner in which the announcement will be fulfilled. And, quite candidly, she voices her perplexity. She believes, but she asks Gabriel to enlighten her faith.
In this, too, Mary is our model. Like her, we must not be afraid to try to enlighten our faith through study, dialogue with well-informed Christians, prayer. Faith will always remain partially dark in this life, but it must not be the faith of an automaton. It must be that of an intelligent being. And it will be all the stronger as it will be enlightened.
December 20, 2016: Insights on the FIFTH DAY OF SIMBANG GABI
“God wills all men to be saved and to come to the knowledge of the fullness of truth” (1 Tim 2:3-4) – Jesus who is the Way, the Truth and the Life (John 14:6). To fulfill this plan of salvation, God begins by giving his people a sign: “The Virgin is with child and bears a son and calls his name Immanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). This was fulfilled through the virginal conception and birth of Jesus as announced by angel Gabriel in today’s gospel that Mary will conceive and bear a son and name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (see Lk 1:26-38). This messianic prophecy was fulfilled when Mary gave her YES TO GOD to become the mother of Jesus, who is the Immanuel which means “the God-with-us,” “God made man (John 1:14),” Lord and God (John 20:28)“in him the fullness of divinity dwells (Col 1:19),” “the Way, the Truth and the life(John 14:6),” our model and teacher of holiness.
“Jesus Christ is the central figure of the world’s history. The world cannot forget Him while it remembers history, for history is His story. To leave Him out would be like astronomy without stars, or like botany with the flowers forgotten. Horace Bushnell said, “It would be easier to untwist all the beams of light in the sky and to separate and erase one of the primary colors, than to get the character of Jesus out of the world.” The history of the race since it’s inception has been the history of the preparation for His coming. The Old Testament foretells His coming in type, symbol, and direct prophesy. The history of His people Israel is a story of expectation, of yearning, of preparation. The fact of Jesus Christ is not only firmly imbedded in human history and written upon the open page of Scripture, but is also experientially embodied in the lives of millions of believers and interwoven in the fabric of all civilization worthy of the name. …. You may have Confucianism without Confucius; Buddhism without Buddha; Islam without Muhammad; Mormonism without Joseph Smith; and Christian Science without Mary Baker Eddy. But you cannot have Christianity without Christ, for strictly speaking, Christianity is Christ, and Christ is Christianity. It is not primarily a religion, but a life; and the life is His life made living in men. “Christ in you, the hope of glory”.”
Indeed, angel Gabriel was right when he, through his greeting, beautifully describes Mary “full of grace”, “the Lord is with you,” who with her “FIAT” or YES TO GOD became the “Theotokos” meaning the “Bearer of God,” the “Mother of God.”
“The way to salvation is the divine will: a royal way, entirely straight and sure, which leads to God. The one who follows it cannot be led astray. Hence, seek the will of God, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else. Sanctity properly so-called consists in simple conformity to the Divine will expressed in the exact and constant fulfillment of the duties of one’s proper state. Seek, therefore, the will of God: nothing more, nothing less, nothing else” (Pope Benedict XV).
“Complete” obedience does not mean that we have never sinned by disobeying but that we have committed ourselves to obeying the Lord “in every aspect of (our) conduct” (see 1 Pt 1:15). We have decided on “complete coverage” in our obedience. We obey the Lord speaking through the Church, in the Bible, through the Pope, bishops, authorities, husbands, parents, and leaders. To do this, we have learned what the Bible says and what the Church and Pope teach. We obey the Lord in our relationships, sexuality, money, possessions, time, work, speaking, eating, sleeping, recreation, etc. There are no areas of our lives where we haven’t tried to know God’s will or where we don’t even think of obeying God. We are living lives of complete obedience (see 1 Pt 1:2). We’re not trapped into the selfish emptiness of doing our own thing. We live a life of love, for obedience is an essential way of expressing our love (see Jn 15:10; 1 Jn 5:3).
Like Mary’s FIAT, let us give our YES TO GOD who calls us to sanctification and salvation, who calls us to the life and mission of the church! (Fr. Estong Bendita 2016.12.20)
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