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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Sunday 4th (B) of Advent

1st Reading (2Sam 7:1-5.8b-12.14a.16): When King David was settled in his palace, and the Lord had given him rest from his enemies on every side, he said to Nathan the prophet, «Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!». Nathan answered the king, «Go, do whatever you have in mind, for the Lord is with you».

But that night the Lord spoke to Nathan and said: «Go, tell my servant David, Thus says the Lord: Should you build me a house to dwell in? 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. And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth. I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance. Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old, since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and 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».
Responsorial Psalm: 88
R/. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The promises of the Lord I will sing forever; through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness. For you have said, «My kindness is established forever»; in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

«I have made a covenant with my chosen one, I have sworn to David my servant: Forever will I confirm your posterity and establish your throne for all generations».

«He shall say of me, ‘You are my father, my God, the Rock, my savior’. Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him, and my covenant with him stands firm».
2nd Reading (Rom 16:25-27): Brothers and sisters: 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 the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Versicle before the Gospel (Lk 1:38): Alleluia. Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word. Alleluia.
Gospel text (Lk 1,26-38): In the sixth month, the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth. He was sent to a young virgin who was betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the family of David; and the virgin's name was Mary. The angel came to her and said, «Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you». Mary was troubled at these words, wondering what this greeting could mean.

But the angel said, «Do not fear, Mary, for God has looked kindly on you. You shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus. He will be great and shall rightly be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the kingdom of David, his ancestor; He will rule over the people of Jacob forever and his reign shall have no end». Then Mary said to the angel, «How can this be if I am a virgin?». And the angel said to her, «The Holy Spirit will come upon you and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore, the holy child to be born shall be called Son of God. Even your relative Elizabeth is expecting a son in her old age, although she was unable to have a child, and she is now in her sixth month. With God nothing is impossible». Then Mary said, «I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said». And the angel left her.

«You shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus»

Fr. Josep Mª MASSANA i Mola OFM (Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the Gospel sounds rather like a popular tale. Many stories begin like that: «Once upon a time, there was...», and then, personages, epoch, place and storyline are presented. This one will attain its peak with the core of the tale; we shall finally know the happy end.

In fact, St. Luke, narrates, with a popular and understandable tone, the greatest story of all times. He presents to us, not a yarn out of his imagination, but an actual reality woven by the very hand of God himself with human collaboration. The climax is reached when the Angel says: «You shall conceive and bear a son and you shall call him Jesus» (Lk 1:31).

This message tells us that Christmas time is near. Mary will open the door for us through her collaboration with the Work of God. This humble girl from Nazareth is astonished at the Angel's announcement. She was precisely praying God to send the Anointed One, to save the world. In her modest dreams, little did she think that God would just choose her to carry out His plans.

In her Heart, Mary experiences some tense and dramatic moments: she was, and wanted to remain as, a virgin; God, now, proposes her to divine maternity. Mary cannot understand it: «How can this be?» (Lk 1:34), asks she. The Angel explains that virginity and maternity do not contradict each other; on the contrary, thanks to the Holy Spirit, they integrate perfectly together. Not that she understands it better now, but that is enough for her, for the prodigy will be God's will: «With God nothing is impossible» (Lk 1:37). Hence, her answer: «Let it be done to me as you have said» (Lk 1:38). Let it be done! Fiat! Yes. Total acceptance of God's Will, half groping, but unconditionally.

In that very instant, «the Word became flesh and dwelt among us!» (Jn 1:14). That popular tale becomes, at the same time, the most divine and human reality. Paul VI wrote in 1974: «In Mary we see God's reply to the mystery of man; and the question man asks God about the meaning and purpose of his life».