Homily for IV (4) Sunday of Advent Year B. 20-12-2020 by Fr. Lubem Robert Waya, osj.
First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16
Psalm: Psalm 88(89): 2-5, 27, 29
Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27
Gospel: Luke 1:26-38
We thank God for bringing us to the final week of advent; we have just a few days to Christmas when our Messiah shall come. What we witness beginning from our first reading today is the fulfilment of the promise the Lord made to His servant David. David even as God’s servant, struggled to be faithful to God. He sometimes fell into sin but will never spare any effort and opportunity of repentance, returning back and seeking the mercy of God. So, the Lord decided to reward Him with a peaceful reign over Israel, granting him rest from all his enemies. David in turn had fair thoughts towards the Lord and was planning to build a befitting house for the dwelling of the ark of God which was still in a tent. The Lord who scrutinizes the thoughts of our hearts and loins saw his heart and decided to reward him showing him that a human being cannot build a house for God. Instead, the Lord promised David ‘I will preserve the offspring of your body after you and make his sovereignty secure…your house and your sovereignty will always stand secure before me and your throne be established forever.’ This promise is what we see fulfilled in the gospel reading of today at the annunciation, and this is a demonstration that the Lord is a faithful God even when we are not faithful.
Coming to Nazareth with the good news of the fulfilment of the promise, the angel Gabriel greeted the virgin Mary in a so much an unusual manner saying, ‘Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’ Why was she told to rejoice? Because she had encountered the Lord, having won God’s favour to be chosen to bear the Son of God, Jesus. And the angel himself went on to remind her that this was in fulfilment of a promise earlier made by God to His servant David. So, he adds that Jesus will be great and called the Son of the Most High and ‘the Lord will give Him the throne of His ancestor David; He will rule over the House of Jacob forever and His reign will have no end.’ Mary asked how this would happen because she knew that it was beyond human capability since she was still a virgin and unmarried. Her question was prompted not by doubt but by amazement, that was why she did not turn down the request but asked how, showing her eagerness to carry out God’s plan.
At this point, humanity and indeed the whole creation and even God waited for Mary’s consent. Even though God is omnipotent He has endowed us with freedom and so He respects that freedom, allowing us to freely choose to do what is good over evil. And Mary using her freedom chose good saying yes to God’s request with the words ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord; let what you have said be done to me.’ By her YES, this moment of annunciation became simultaneously the moment of her conception as she was enveloped by the power of the Holy Spirit. This singular act of hers transformed the world perpetually. For with her yes, the Word became incarnate and dwelt among us as Emmanuel for our salvation in fulfilment of the promise made to David. This is a yes to life in opposition to the culture of death. It is also an important lesson to us on the right use of our individual freedoms. She has shown us that the right use of our freedom is always and only to do good and to promote life. At any point we use our freedom to do bad or evil, or promote death, it becomes not just an abuse of freedom but also an affront to God who is the author of our freedom. By Mary’s yes Christ Himself came ‘in order that we might have life, life in abundance (John 10:10).’ Our freedom once used rightly brings goodness and life to people around us.
Today is therefore an opportunity to evaluate and ask yourself, how do you use your freedom? Do you use it for good or for evil? Do you use it to save, to uplift people or to destroy them? Do you use it to bring life to people or death? Mary used her freedom to save the world, accepting to be the mother of Christ who is God, who has brought salvation to the world. What good have you done with your freedom? Let us remember that as Mary submitted herself in obedience to carryout God’s plan, we also cannot be truly free except in submission to God’s will. For we are His creatures made in His image and likeness, and St. Paul adds that ‘we have been bought with a price (1 Corinthians 6:20).’ That is why St. Augustine also says, ‘Lord you have made us for yourself and our hearts are restless until they rest in you.’ It is only in God that we can truly and fully realise ourselves. Just like Mary, our faith must lead us to submit ourselves in obedience to His will. As we prepare for the coming of Christ, let us ask the Lord to give us a grace-filled life of faith like Mary, to believe in His promises and the loving obedience to always carryout His will in our lives so that we can have cause to be truly happy like Mary in the salvation wrought for us. We ask this through Christ our Lord. Amen.