December 20, 2020: Homily- Fourth Sunday of Advent

Introduction: Today’s readings focus on the circumstances leading up to the first coming of Jesus, the event which sets the pattern for his coming to us now and at the end of time. They describe God’s promise to David and its fulfillment in Jesus, the Son of David. They also tell us that God’s preparation for the coming of Jesus was full of surprises.

Scripture Lessons: The First reading surprises us by telling of God’s promise to David that he would have a long line of royal descendants culminating in a final King, Jesus Christ. God’s response to David’s wish (to build Him a Temple), is that God will do more for David (build an everlasting dynasty) than David could ever do for God.

In the Responsorial Psalm (Ps 89), the Psalmist recalls all of God’s promises, and surprises us by describing God’s promise to David and his descendants in terms of a Covenant.

Today’s Gospel surprises us by telling us that this King would be born to an ordinary virgin, through the Holy Spirit, and that the Son of God, Jesus, would become Incarnate as a descendant of David. This would occur through Joseph, Mary’s betrothed husband and the legal father of her son, as Joseph was “of the House of David.” The Gospel narrative surprises us also by reminding us that God’s promise is best fulfilled not in buildings, or even in great kings like Solomon, but rather in humble souls like Mary, who trusted in God’s promise. The second reading also surprises us with Paul’s explanation of the unveiling of God’s plan for human salvation through Jesus. Thus, God’s plan of salvation through history has contained many surprises.

Life messages: 1) We need to say a courageous and generous “yes” to God: An obedience which comes from a free choice, and  self-surrender often requires a great deal of courage because it can involve going against the tide of social expectations. True obedience also aims at putting oneself at the service of something/Someone that is greater than oneself, accepting what God clearly wants us to do or what He wants to do through us. It is by saying, with Jesus and Mary, a wholehearted and totally unconditional “Yes” – “her Fiat! May it be done in me,” to Jesus that he will be re-born in each of us, or maybe even born in me for the first time. By my saying “Yes,” Jesus will be born or re-born in others, too.

2) We need to try to learn God’s plan for our lives: The Good News in today’s Scripture message is not only that God is making provision for the salvation of His people, but also that He has a plan for each individual person. In many cases, our work for God seems rather ordinary, but each ordinary task which we carry out fits into God’s plan in ways that we cannot yet understand. God desires not only the skill of our hands and talents but the love of our hearts.  The Babe in the Manger reminds us of what God has done and is still doing for us. What are we doing for Him in return? Let us show our gratitude to God by living as true followers of Christ: “Behold, here I am, Lord! I come to do Your will.”

We, like our Blessed Mother, can say “yes” to God.  Say yes to God with a true heart.  Mary did it and it changed the world.

As we go about our final preparations for Christmas, let’s remind ourselves of Mary’s important role in the birth of the Redeemer. Also, let’s follow God’s will through joys and sorrows, through thick and thin.

Make this last week of Advent, a real time of preparation for the coming of Jesus!

Father Bernie

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