Fourth Sunday of Advent (B)

A thousand years would past, and then God made known His plan to all people. The Messiah would not be a hidden mystery, known only to the Jews. The Messiah would be revealed to all the nations, so that all may submit to God in faith through Jesus Christ. The plan began with a simple scene: an angel, Gabriel by name, appeared to a young girl, the Virgin Mary, and told her that she would have a child conceived not through a man, but through the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit.  St. Bernard put it so beautifully: the angel asked and mankind waited for Mary’s reply.

St. Paul concludes his Letter to the Romans with this Sunday’s second reading. This was God’s plan all along.  The prophets revealed it, but then the Plan took effect through Mary, all so we can have a union of obedient love to God our Father through Jesus Christ.

Each one of us has part of this plan. We might not be the founder of the dynasty like David, nor the mother of the Savior like Mary, but we are called to lead others to Bethlehem, to lead others to our Lord.  But we are not merely viewers; we are actors, and like the shepherds and the magi, angels and stars are calling us to worship Jesus. Like Mary, we can make the spiritual physical. No, we can’t give birth to the Savior, but we can make His Presence a reality in the world. How? Well, by being people of God.

God calls us to particular missions in life. These missions might be to be a faithful and faith-filled husband or wife, father or mother, grandmother or grandfather. The mission may be to be a single man or woman with the time to extend God's love to others. The mission may be, right now, to be a holy widow or widower, offering the love cultivated during marriage to those around you. The mission may be to be a good little boy or girl, or a good teenager or young adult, learning how to love as God loves, sacrificially. When we do our best to respond to His call we give evidence to His Presence in the world.

My brother, my sister, people are not just physical. People are physical and spiritual. When we view someone as a Man of God, Woman of God, or Child of God, Teen of God, we see the total person body and soul.  When others view us, any of us, as a Person of God, they see us as in our totality, physical and spiritual: we are called to make the spiritual within us a reality in the world outside of us. We are called to help others recognize their ability to be spiritual.

God calls us to do much much more than build a house for His Presence[1]. He calls us to be the House of His Presence. He calls us to radiate His Reality to a world that looks for a Savior...

So, we need to stop selling ourselves short. We are part of the wonder of the plan. We are part of the wonder of the Word Made Flesh, the Wonder of Christmas. People in our families, in our neighborhoods, people we associate with at work, people we know, and people we do not know, all need us to bring the Presence of the Lord to them.

Saint Gabriel spoke to Mary and the world waited for her answer. God speaks to each of us throughout our lives, and the world waits for our answers. For we are not Christians for ourselves, we are Christians to bring God to others and to serve God in others…

My brother, my sister, more than other times, more than ever, today we do our personal prayer to the Lord by borrowing the words of that beautiful hymn:
O come, O come, Emmanuel
And ransom captive Israel
That mourns in lonely exile here
Until the Son of God appear
Rejoice! Rejoice! Emmanuel
Shall come to thee, O Israel[2]

[1] Cfr 2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
[2] O come, O come, Emmanuel is a translation of the Latin text (Veni, veni, Emmanuel) by John Mason Neale and Henry Sloane Coffin in the mid-19th century. It is a metrical version of a collation of various Advent Antiphons (the acrostic O Antiphons), which now serves as a popular Advent hymn. Its origins are unclear, it is thought that the antiphons are from at least the 8th Century, but Veni, veni Emmanuel may well be 12th Century in origin. The text is based on the biblical prophecy from Isaiah 7:14 that states that God will give Israel a sign that will be called Immanuel (Lit.: God with us). Matthew 1:23 states fulfillment of this prophecy in the birth of Jesus of Nazareth.

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