December 21, 2014
Fourth Sunday of Advent
2 Sm 7: 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16/ Ps 89: 2-3, 4-5, 27, 29 (2a)/ Rom 16: 25-27/ Lk 1: 26- 38
First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
When the king had settled in his palace and Yahweh had rid him of his surrounding enemies, he said to Nathan the prophet "Look, I live in a house of cedar but the ark of God is housed in a tent." Nathan replied, "Do as it seems fit to you for Yahweh is with you." But that very night, Yahweh's word came to Nathan, "Go and tell my servant David, this is what Yahweh says: Are you able to build a house for me to live in?" "I took you from the pasture, from tending the sheep, to make you commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, cutting down all your enemies before you. Now I will make your name great as the name of the great ones on earth. I will provide a place for my people Israel and plant them that they may live there in peace. They shall no longer be harassed, nor shall wicked men oppress them as before. From the time when I appointed judges over my people Israel it is only to you that I have given rest from all your enemies. Yahweh also tells you that he will build you a house. When the time comes for you to rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your son after you, the one born of you and I will make his reign secure. I will be father to him and he shall be my son. Your house and your reign shall last forever before me and your throne shall be forever firm."
Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27
Brothers and sisters: He is able to give you strength according to the Good News I proclaim, announcing Christ Jesus. Now is revealed the mysterious plan kept hidden for long ages in the past. By the will of the eternal God it is brought to light, through the prophetic books, and all nations shall believe the faith proclaimed to them. Glory to God, who alone is wise, through Christ Jesus, for ever. Amen.
Gospel: Luke 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 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.
The Gospel narration of the Annunciation is the story of the incarnation of the Word, the Son of God. Only Luke's Gospel gives this account. Did Luke receive this account from Mary herself? Is this a mere "fabrication" by Luke of what must have happened?
In his Spiritual Exercises, St. Ignatius of Loyola pictures "the Three Divine Persons looking down upon the whole expanse or circuit of all the earth, filled with human beings. Since They see that all are going down to hell, They decree in Their eternity that the Second Person should become man to save the human race. So when the fullness of time had come, They send the Angel Gabriel to our Lady." Ignatius asks the retreatant to see the people of the earth, "in such diversity in dress and in manner of acting. Some are white, some black; some at peace and some at war; some weeping, some laughing' some well, some sick; some coming into the world and some dying." The blessed Trinity "look down upon the whole surface of the earth, and behold all nations in great blindness, going down to death and descending into hell." The retreatant is instructed to listen "what the persons on the face of the earth say, that is, how they speak to one another, swear and blaspheme," and to hear the Divine Trinity saying, "Let us work out the redemption of the human race."
Having decided that the Word was to become man, the Angel Gabriel is sent to announce this to the Virgin Mary and to invite her to be the mother of the Incarnate Word. "Rejoice, full of grace, the Lord is with you. 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."
"How can this be if I am a virgin?" "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." And Mary accepts with great generosity, "I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me as you have said." The incarnation of the Word of God has sanctified and raised our humanity and has allowed us to share in his divinity.
After four weeks of hopeful prayer and expectation for the coming of the Lord, we can rejoice with Mary, Joseph and the shepherds, with the angels and all the hosts of heaven, at the birth of the Child Jesus in Bethlehem: "And the Word was made flesh."
We pray ...
... for a deep and profound respect for life, especially for the unborn
... for all the prayer intentions in the MTQ Dailyprayer Diary
... for families who are in need of healing
... for world peace and reconciliation.
Finally, we pray for one another, for those who have asked our prayers and for those who need our prayers the most.
Have a good day!
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