Fourth Sunday of Advent

A few months ago I was roaming the Metropolitan Museum of Art[1] with an audio guide stuck in my ear. I came upon a medieval painting of the scene depicted in today’s Gospel, the scene we usually call the Annunciation. The narrator pointed out the various different technical elements of the painting and then spoke about the dove over Mary and the Angel’s head. A very good explication, however he missed the artist’s point. The artist’s point was that Mary heard the Word of God. That was why the Holy Spirit was able to overshadowed her. That was how the Word of God became flesh through her[2].

Mary was given a choice. The world waited for her answer. She could have refused to allow God’s plan to work through her, but Mary was open to the Word of God. She allowed to Word to enter her and transform her from a simple person to the mother of the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity, to the Queen of the Universe. She was open to the Word of God, and the Word of God used her to transform the world. The what of Jesus, what is he, is human and divine, two natures. But the who of Jesus, who is he, is always the Second Person of the Blessed Trinity. Mary said “Yes!” to the Word in her ear and became the Mother of God.

That same Word of God whispers into our ears, yours and mine. He calls us to continue the transformation of the world. He calls us to make the Savior real to those who long for his presence. Will we reject the Word and force Him to look for another ear? Will we obey grudgingly and limit His action through us? Or will we make a decision for the Lord, and offer ourselves totally to God?

We are here because we have chosen Jesus Christ. We recognize our humanity, our weakness, and we seek strength to remain faithful to this choice. Mary’s great virtue was her obedience.

The Word of God whispers into our ears and calls upon us to bring this Divine Presence within us to others. We do this by standing up for our faith. We do this by searching out for those who need His Strength. So many people hurt at Christmas time. People who have lost loved ones need special attention. People who are wandering the world listlessly, from thing to thing, need special care. People who are sick and elderly and wondering if this will be their last Christmas, need the assurance that God’s love will usher them an eternal Christmas.

The Word of God whispered into Mary’s ear, and she conceived. The Word of God is shouting into our ears, and we are transforming the world with His Presence.

Hail Mary, Full of Grace. Because you let God work within you, we have become the Masterpiece of His Hand ■

[1] The Metropolitan Museum of Art is an art museum located on the eastern edge of Central Park, along what is known as Museum Mile in New York City, USA. It has a permanent collection containing more than two million works of art, divided into nineteen curatorial departments The main building, often referred to simply as "the Met," is one of the world's largest art galleries, and has a much smaller second location in Upper Manhattan, at "The Cloisters," which features medieval art. You also must visit: http://www.metmuseum.org
[2] Sunday 21st December, 2008, 4th Sunday of Advent. Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord—Ps 88(89): 2-5, 27, 29. Romans 16:25-27. Luke 1:26-38 [St Peter Canisius].
Ilustration: At the age of seventeen the Genoese Bernardo Strozzi became a Capuchin monk (hence his nicknames of "Il Capucino" or "Il Prete Genovese"), but in 1610 he left his convent in order to tto support his mother and sister by his work as a painter. When the former died and the latter married he was recalled by his order but disobeyed and, to escape imprisonment, fled to Venice where he spent the rest of his life. Influenced to some extent by the painters of Venice but mainly by Caravaggio and Rubens, Strozzi was a versatile and extraordinarily prolific artist, whose work comprises nearly every kind of painting - frescoes, altarpieces, genre scenes and portraits. His approach was natural and robust, his forms vigorous and his colours warm, even fiery. The Annunciation was painted during his late Venetian period.
Bernardo Strozzi, The Annunciation (1643-44), Oil on canvas, 145 x 120 cm, Museum of Fine Arts, Budapest.

Y entonces uno se queda con la Iglesia, que me ofrece lo único que debe ofrecerme la Iglesia: el conocimiento de que ya estamos salvados –porque esa es la primera misión de la Iglesia, el anunciar la salvación gracias a Jesucristo- y el camino para alcanzar la alegría, pero sin exclusividades de buen pastor, a través de esa maravilla que es la confesión y los sacramentos. La Iglesia, sin partecitas.

laus deo virginique matris