Fourth Sunday of Advent

Fr. Ike Udoh, SJ

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Micah 5:1-4a/Hebrews 10:5-10/Luke 1:39-45

As we stand so close to the breaking-in of the “light that enlightens everyone” coming into the world, Emmanuel – God-with-us, our readings turn our eyes towards the mother of the Lord, the woman of faith, whose Yes! to God’s word, was the beginning of a new birth, new hope, new life in our world, beyond what we can ask or imagine.  Today, we pray, make me a woman of faith, Lord! make me a man of faith, because if we do not stand firm in faith, we will not stand.  We want to be counted among those like Mary who have believed that the words spoken to us by the Lord will be fulfilled.  We must move from a place of fear to faith if we want to secure our future.

Contrary to popular opinion, faith is not pie in the sky. Faith is putting your body on the line – not bringing holocausts or burnt offerings, but about saying Here I am! I come to do your will.  Faith is committing heart, mind, and body to the promise of a love that never fails.  In ordinary terms, faith is not just thinking in your head, I’d like to give my life to this person or marry this person, faith is making the commitment, saying “I do” – in sickness, in health, richer, or poorer, till death, because you trust this person, even though you may not know everything about them.  May God help us not to give in to the fear of Zachariah, to despair or hopelessness at the barrenness and unfruitfulness he saw, such that he could not believe God could change his situation.  Have you tried everything?  Are you at the point of despair or disillusionment?  Is your God limited to your current circumstance?  How big is your God?  Mary believed God was big enough to do the impossible.  Mary and Elizabeth knew the audacity of God who seems to major in doing the impossible, in doing far more than we can ask or imagine if we believe and entrust our whole life, our body, our mind to him.  “Let it be done to me according to your word.”

Let us walk a little more closely with this woman of faith.  She was carrying in her flesh the promise of the ages, the messiah and king all the prophets longed for, the son of the Most High God whose kingdom will never end.  Do you know what you carry as a person of faith?  Are we aware of the incredible gift of faith that gives us access to the very life of God?  Mary did not doubt the word of the angel.  With this incredible gift of God in her, her first thoughts were to run out in haste to be with and aid her cousin, Elizabeth – another person who had experienced the audacity of God to bring springs of water in a desert.  Mary embodies being a person for others – she spent three months with her cousin.  Mary woman of faith, help us to be men and women for others.

Some people are troubled by the presence of Mary especially in our catholic faith.  Let’s see what the Scriptures reveal about someone who welcomes her.  We hear that as soon as Elizabeth hears her greeting, the baby leaps for joy, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, and she recognizes that the one who stands before her is carrying the promise of the ages, the Lord of all the earth.  We say Elizabeth’s Holy Spirit inspired words in the rosary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, she was carrying Jesus the Lord.  She is the perfect conduit of all that she has received.  Her presence communicated the Holy Spirit and the joy of the presence of the prince of peace.  She is the new ark of the covenant that bore God’s presence in the OT.  It had only the commandments written in stone, the staff of Aaron and some manna, the bread God supplied in the desert.  But that Ark went ahead of the whole people of Israel in battle and destroyed their enemies, its presence in the house of David brought so many blessings.  But Mary is carrying the Word made flesh, the true bread from heaven, the Son of the Most High.  She is the woman spoken of in Genesis whose seed crushes the head of the serpent.  It is not enough to call her blessed, she invites us to imitate her faith today (a faith that makes her offer her whole life/ her body to the Lord, a faith in God who can do the impossible, a faith that makes haste to serve) so that whatever binds us, the sin that clings so closely, the addictions and heartache that we carry, the unforgiveness and pain, the barrenness and unfruitfulness, the doubt and disillusionment we feel, will be crushed by the light of the world who she brings to us.  May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts and change our fear to faith, and make us leap with joy.

Mary, woman of faith, give us the grace to have your audacity to believe in the power of God to do the impossible, to heal our hearts, to heal his body the church, to raise us from death to life.

As we stand so close to the breaking-in of the “light that enlightens everyone” coming into the world, Emmanuel – God-with-us, our readings turn our eyes towards the mother of the Lord, the woman of faith, whose Yes! to God’s word, was the beginning of a new birth, new hope, new life in our world, beyond what we can ask or imagine.  Today, we pray, make me a woman of faith, Lord! make me a man of faith, because if we do not stand firm in faith, we will not stand.  We want to be counted among those like Mary who have believed that the words spoken to us by the Lord will be fulfilled.  We must move from a place of fear to faith if we want to secure our future.

Contrary to popular opinion, faith is not pie in the sky. Faith is putting your body on the line – not bringing holocausts or burnt offerings, but about saying Here I am! I come to do your will.  Faith is committing heart, mind, and body to the promise of a love that never fails.  In ordinary terms, faith is not just thinking in your head, I’d like to give my life to this person or marry this person, faith is making the commitment, saying “I do” – in sickness, in health, richer, or poorer, till death, because you trust this person, even though you may not know everything about them.  May God help us not to give in to the fear of Zachariah, to despair or hopelessness at the barrenness and unfruitfulness he saw, such that he could not believe God could change his situation.  Have you tried everything?  Are you at the point of despair or disillusionment?  Is your God limited to your current circumstance?  How big is your God?  Mary believed God was big enough to do the impossible.  Mary and Elizabeth knew the audacity of God who seems to major in doing the impossible, in doing far more than we can ask or imagine if we believe and entrust our whole life, our body, our mind to him.  “Let it be done to me according to your word.”

Let us walk a little more closely with this woman of faith.  She was carrying in her flesh the promise of the ages, the messiah and king all the prophets longed for, the son of the Most High God whose kingdom will never end.  Do you know what you carry as a person of faith?  Are we aware of the incredible gift of faith that gives us access to the very life of God?  Mary did not doubt the word of the angel.  With this incredible gift of God in her, her first thoughts were to run out in haste to be with and aid her cousin, Elizabeth – another person who had experienced the audacity of God to bring springs of water in a desert.  Mary embodies being a person for others – she spent three months with her cousin.  Mary woman of faith, help us to be men and women for others.

Some people are troubled by the presence of Mary especially in our catholic faith.  Let’s see what the Scriptures reveal about someone who welcomes her.  We hear that as soon as Elizabeth hears her greeting, the baby leaps for joy, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, and she recognizes that the one who stands before her is carrying the promise of the ages, the Lord of all the earth.  We say Elizabeth’s Holy Spirit inspired words in the rosary, “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.”  How is it that the mother of my Lord should come to me?  Mary was overshadowed by the Holy Spirit, she was carrying Jesus the Lord.  She is the perfect conduit of all that she has received.  Her presence communicated the Holy Spirit and the joy of the presence of the prince of peace.  She is the new ark of the covenant that bore God’s presence in the OT.  It had only the commandments written in stone, the staff of Aaron and some manna, the bread God supplied in the desert.  But that Ark went ahead of the whole people of Israel in battle and destroyed their enemies, its presence in the house of David brought so many blessings.  But Mary is carrying the Word made flesh, the true bread from heaven, the Son of the Most High.  She is the woman spoken of in Genesis whose seed crushes the head of the serpent.  It is not enough to call her blessed, she invites us to imitate her faith today (a faith that makes her offer her whole life/ her body to the Lord, a faith in God who can do the impossible, a faith that makes haste to serve) so that whatever binds us, the sin that clings so closely, the addictions and heartache that we carry, the unforgiveness and pain, the barrenness and unfruitfulness, the doubt and disillusionment we feel, will be crushed by the light of the world who she brings to us.  May the Holy Spirit fill our hearts and change our fear to faith, and make us leap with joy.

Mary, woman of faith, give us the grace to have your audacity to believe in the power of God to do the impossible, to heal our hearts, to heal his body the church, to raise us from death to life.