Second Book of Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 11:16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

We could think of this Fourth Sunday of Advent as the “final lap” in the Advent journey of 2023. In fact, we’ve reached the final day of Advent, as this Sunday evening at First Vespers we begin the celebration of Christmas. Later tonight, being Christmas Eve, we pray the Office and Vigils, and Midnight Mass of Christmas. On Christmas morning, we celebrate Lauds and another Mass at 11:00 am. How quickly the days have flown leading up to this Christmas. Ready or not, let Christmas begin!

But before that, in the first reading for Mass on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, God tells King David that: “I have been with you wherever you went.” Then David is assured that God will not withdraw His favor, and in fact that David’s line and kingdom “shall endure forever.” How are we to understand this promise?  It is to be found Primarily in the sending of God’s Son, Jesus of Nazareth, as the definitive and everlasting Redeemer of the human race. All the prophesies and expectations of old are brought to completion in the person of Jesus Christ. However, an earthly kingdom is not what Jesus announces and brings, but an invisible and eternal one, where the Lord shall Reign and be everything to everyone (see First Corinthians 15:28), often translated as “that God may be all in all.”

In this holy season, God is asking us to stir up our energy and determination to meet the living God, to cooperate fully in our surrender to God, at whatever stage we are at, and to follow in the footsteps of the Master without counting the cost. “I’m too old,” or “I’m too young,” or “I’m too tired,” just won’t work when we speak of the spiritual life, and the work entailed in going to God. Now is the acceptable time, now is the day of salvation, as Sacred Scripture, the Bible, constantly remind us.

In taking up the mission of following Christ, we are being called to put to good use our varied and sundry talents, to allow God to lead us to places that are beyond the possibilities we might think we are capable of achieving. This of course has nothing to do with health or beauty, prestige or recognition. Quite the contrary, it has to do with love and service, gentleness and the pursuit of peace, all in the name of Christ.

Today’s Gospel takes us back to the moment of the Annunciation to Mary that she is to be the Mother of the Redeemer. God desires to make the Blessed Virgin the “tent” or “tabernacle” wherein the Savior of the World is to dwell for nine months, until his birth at Bethlehem, and throughout his earthly sojourn. In bearing the Holy Child Jesus, Mary fulfills all the promises of old, announced by the prophets, that a Savior would be born, the Prince of Peace.

In the second reading for this Sunday’s Mass, Saint Paul reminds the believers in Rome, and all of us as well, two millennia later, that the Gospel of Jesus Christ contains a mystery hidden for ages and now made explicit and manifest, that is, evident, by our Baptism and reception of the other Sacraments of the Church.

During these final hours of Advent, we might ask ourselves if we live in the mystery of God’s goodness within us personally, within our family and faith community, within the Church. Are we ready to be taken by surprise by the God who has great things in store for us? Are we confident that God is leading us to places we might never have ever imagined were possible for us? Are we ready for God to achieve something different than we planned for ourselves?

Fortunately, God’s good action in our lives, what we call grace, reaches beyond our imagination and far exceeds our power. God has chosen us, as he chose David his servant, as he chose the Blessed Virgin Mary, to be instruments in the fulfillment of God’s plan for the human race.

A Blessed and Merry Christmas to all!

Christ is born for us! Come, let us adore!

Abbot Christian Leisy, OSB