December 21, 2014 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
“Hail, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” As Catholics we are so familiar with that statement, as it is the beginning of our beautiful Hail Mary prayer. It was the angel Gabriel speaking, and in our Hail Mary prayer we add the Blessed Mother’s name Mary to say “Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with you.” We could carefully evaluate each phrase of this magnificent prayer; however, on this Fourth Sunday of Advent, let us consider what it means that “the Lord is with you” before we examine how God speaks to us in all of our readings.
God was with Mary from the beginning; Gabriel is reminding her of that. God chose Mary before Mary chose God. Sometimes we get the mistaken impression in our own faith journeys that we made the decision to be faith-filled and to follow the Lord. We have been chosen by the Lord and as Christmas is upon us, we must always remember that. Jesus made it very clear to His disciples when He said to them, “You did not choose me; I chose you.” (Jn 15:16) Part of our understanding of stewardship involves us realizing that God has selected us for a particular role and vocation in life, and that good stewardship calls for us to identify that role and pursue it to build the Kingdom of God.
As you might expect, our Holy Scripture for this Fourth Sunday of Advent focuses on our calling and the imminent arrival of the Christ child. Nathan the prophet says to King David near the beginning of the first reading, “The Lord is with you.” David is reflecting on what has happened in his life. It is clear to him that God has chosen him and the Lord has done great things for him. David’s contemplation leads him to think what he can do for God. God has done wonderful things for each of us as well. Our stewardship challenge is to come up with ways that we can do good things for God and others. We understand that God cannot be outdone in generosity; we also understand that God does not necessarily need all that we might share or do. Nevertheless, we need to do those things to show our gratitude to the Lord. God is giving us an incredible gift in a few short days. We need to respond to that.
In our second reading from St. Paul’s letter to the Romans, Paul concludes his letter with “to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, be glory forever and ever.” Paul is reminding us that God indeed does have a plan for each of us. On this last Sunday in Advent Paul is also prompting us to remember that God’s plan for all of us is coming to fruition with the birth of Christ. Paul’s entire letter to the Romans concentrates on God’s plan for salvation, and this reading again brings us to accept that plan and glory in it at Christmas.
Finally we return to the Gospel from Luke. Over and over throughout Scripture we are reminded that “…nothing will be impossible for God.” The Angel Gabriel uses those same words with Mary. Accepting this statement as true is one of the things that makes it possible for a good steward to trust so implicitly in God. If we believe that and if we follow that, we, like our Blessed Mother, can look to the Lord and say with confidence and love, “May it be done to me according to your word.”