Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Homily: Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B- Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily: Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo
Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12, 14a,16; Ps 89:2-5, 27, 29; Rom 16:25-27 and Luke 1:26-38

    Gift of Mary and Gift through Mary
“Behold I am the Handmaid of the Lord, be it done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38).

This response of Mary to the Angel Gabriel in today’s Gospel underlines the dominance of the mother of Jesus in liturgy of the Fourth Sunday of Advent, especially in Cycles B and C. Mary says she is the handmaid of the Lord, ( h` dou,lh kuri,ou ,in Greek), the “servant of the Lord.” It underscores her hope, faith, humility, her availability and willingness, out of freedom to do God’s will, which we are invited to participate.

 She is an example of an ideal disciple. Mary is a disciple, willing to love, willing to forgive, willing to serve.  She is a gift to us. She becomes that simple vehicle through which historic royal theology and God’s mysteries and promises are fulfilled in Christ, come Christmas.

The first reading of today traces this promise to 2 Samuel chapter 7. After David had consolidated power with a smart move of making Jerusalem his capital, he planned to build a physical house (bayit ) for the Lord. Like the story of Eli and Samuel, God spoke that night to David through Prophet Nathan, reversing David’s plan. Rather He, God, would build a bayit, not just a physical house, but a dynasty, an everlasting house for David and his successors. God does things in mysterious ways!

Look at that first reading. It is truly the everlasting promise God made to David and his successors. God says, 

“It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people, Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you…. The Lord also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.”

This unconditional promise of kingship forever would be fulfilled for us at Christmas through the birth of Christ, the Son of God.  Mary is that vehicle, a simple Jewish woman of great faith. She listens and accepts the message of the Angel Gabriel sent by God. She dialogues freely with Gabriel. She is not violent. She is not argumentative, but ponders. She is reflective. She is not arrogant. She does not claim to know more than God and the Angel. She is opened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, over the mysteries of the one who will rule over the house of David.

Paul, in Roman chapter16 testifies to the fulfillment of this promise in the person of Christ. St. Paul says,

“to him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages, but now manifested through the prophetic writings, and according to the command of eternal God..” (Rom 16:25-27).

David, and especially Mary, I believe are great examples of how we can, in our different life-situations, respond to God’s mysteries and divine command.  David was attentive to Prophet Nathan. He gave up his plan of building a physical house. Mary responded with complete humility, trust and faith in whatever God has in stock for her. How we respond to Scriptures, what the Church teaches, our parents, teachers and God-fearing leaders, counts.

As Christmas approaches, we want to imitate her gifts. We want to contemplate the virtues of Mary, her dialogue and reactions to Angel Gabriel.  We want to make our homes, schools, seminaries,  religious communities ,offices, places of work “Schools of Mary” and “Colleges of Virtues”, where we obey, sing God’s promises (Ps 89),  hope and trust in God at all times.