CATHOLIC NEWS OF THE WEEK . Saturday, 23 June 2018

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Fourth Sunday of Advent: Jesus is conceived from Mary’s Yes

While the eyes of those awaiting for the saving intervention of God facing Jerusalem, God set his eyes on a tiny village lost in the mountains of Galilee, such an insignificant place that in the whole of the Old Testament, it did not rate even one mention.
 
It was inhabited by simple people with little education and even considered unclean, because they lived in contact with pagans. To Philip, who enthusiastically declared his admiration for Jesus of Nazareth, Nathanael mockingly replied, “Can anything good come out of Nazareth?” (John 1:46).
 
The surprises were not over. There, he chose not a valiant liberator like Gideon, not a hero like Samson or a powerful ruler like Solomon, but a woman, a virgin, a poor girl.
 
The central message of the passage is the opening greeting of the angel to Mary. “Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you” (Luke 1:28).
 
This greeting was well known to Mary because the prophets had already addressed it to the Virgin Zion from Zephaniah (Zephaniah 3:1). Putting these words in the angel’s mouth, Luke identified Mary with the Virgin Zion, who rejoiced because the Lord was present in her.
 
After the greeting, the angel announced to Mary the birth of a child to whom the Lord God would give the kingdom of David, his ancestor; he would rule over the people of Jacob forever and his reign shall have no end.
 
The angel told Mary that the power of the Most High would overshadow her. 
 
In the Old Testament, the shadow and the cloud were signs of God’s presence. In stating that the shadow of the Almighty rested on Mary, Luke was actually saying that God was making himself present in her.
 
This is the evangelist’s profession of faith in the divinity of Mary’s son.
 
The last words of the angel were, With God nothing is impossible (Luke 1:37). These are the same words that the Lord spoke to Abraham when he announced the birth of Isaac (Genesis 18:14).
 
This is a good message to those who feel themselves too poor or too unworthy and think that for them there is no more hope of recovery and salvation.
 
I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said. It is Mary’s response to God’s call. The Greek word genoito expresses a joyful desire in Mary, an anxiety over seeing the Lord’s plan realised in her. The story begins with the word, Rejoice, and ends with the joyful cry of the Blessed Virgin.
 
No one had understood God’s plan. David, Nathan, Solomon, the kings of Israel had not understood it. All had their own dreams and expected God to help them.
 
Mary does not behave like them; she does not put her own plans ahead of God’s plan. She only asks what it is that God intends to entrust to her and joyously welcomes his initiative.
 
• Father Fernando Armellini SCJ
Claretian Publications
https://sundaycommentaries.wordpress.com/2017/11/30/2nd-sunday-of-advent-year-b-december-10-2017/
Abridged by Kandamkulathy Jijo