Fourth Sunday of Advent, 24th December

Luke 1:26-38
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin whose name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The angel said to her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Today’s reading is familiar with us. It is hope that our familiarity does not breed contempt. The reading really reminds us how God loves us. He loves us to such a degree that no one saint or an angel is good enough to take His place to become one of us. Through the Incarnation, we can then literally become children of God the Father. The reading also reminds us the importance of the cooperation between God and us, between divinity and humanity, which is first manifested in dialogue between angel Gabriel and Our Lady Mary.
Luke is the Evangelist who gave the details about the conception and birth of Jesus. This is because Luke was a Gentile and was converted by Paul at Troas. It was highly possible that he had met not only the apostles but also Our Lady in Palestine. He might get the details of the conception, birth and infancy of Jesus from Our Lady, who remembered them in her heart as Luke twice saying that “Mary stored up all these things (about the infancy of Jesus) and treasured them in her heart” (Luke 2:19 and 25).
He told us where Nazareth was located, who was Joseph, and the name of the virgin. The information supports what Luke was going to tell were facts not fictions. Nazareth was a small city and was hardly known by Jews. Joseph was descended from David. The legal descent of Jesus is assured through his adopting father Joseph. Luke clearly indicates that Mary was and would remain a virgin in the strict sense.
From the reading we can see God had chosen Mary for an essential and intimate role in His messianic plan. For us, we can also review how God have chosen us for the same role in His messianic plan. Today is a good occasion to look right into our hearts, to see how we stand with God.
During the week we shall be keeping the feast of Christmas. The baby in the manger reminds us of God has done and is still doing for us. What are we doing in return? Have we shown our gratitude by living as true followers of Christ? If most of our answers are “no”, we should change our course and return to the right path once more. God is asking this of us today. Shall our answer be: “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Amen.