On this fourth Sunday of Advent, Mother Church focuses our attention on the Blessed Virgin Mary, who in a few days will give birth to the Saviour of the world, our Lord Jesus Christ, who is a descendant of King David.
The first Reading, (2 Sam 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16), presented us with the desire of King David to build a house for the Lord. King David was a great warrior who led the people of Israel in multiple battles. Before his coronation, he was responsible for the defeat of Goliath and consequently the Philistines. As a King, he led the conquest of Jerusalem. Having captured Jerusalem, he made it his state capital and built himself a durable house. However, the Ark of the Covenant of the Lord was kept in a tent as it was during the Israelite sojourn from Egypt to the promised land.
King David’s aspiration to build a house for the Lord did not eventuate in his lifetime. His son Solomon built a glamorous Temple for the Lord, (1Kg 6:1-38; 2Ch 7:5). None-the-less, the Lord appreciated his good intention and promised to make him a house and establish his dynasty for ever.
Today’s Gospel passage is the Annunciation story, (Luke 1:26-38). “The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the House of David.” The House of David is the link between the first Reading which is the prophecy and the Gospel which is the fulfilment of the prophecy.
Mary and Joseph belonged to the group of the poor known as “anawim” in Hebrew, who remained faithful to God in times of difficulty. The members of this group around the time of Jesus’ birth were actively praying for the coming of the Messiah. Other members of this group in the New Testament include Joachim and Anne, the parents of Blessed Virgin Mary, Zachary and Elizabeth, parents of John the Baptist, and Simeon and Anna who blessed Jesus during his presentation in the Temple.
Though in the Jewish world view, the Messiah was to be a political leader who would restore political and economic independence to the people of Israel, (Acts 1:6). However, the Lord’s plan for a Messiah was a saviour of humankind. One who inaugurates a new covenant for the whole of humankind.
The Gospel narrated that when Archangel Gabriel approached Mary, he greeted her by saying, “’Rejoice, so highly favoured! The Lord is with you.’” Mary was highly favoured because she was conceived without Original sin, due to the merits of Christ. Just as the Lord told Prophet Jeremiah that while he was still in his mother’s womb, he had consecrated him and set him apart to be a prophet, so was Mary consecrated and set apart to be the mother of Jesus Christ.
Although Mary was chosen at her conception to be the mother of Jesus, she still had to say yes to the Lord. God would not force her if she refused to cooperate with his grace.
Lucifer, (Satan), was the Angel of light but he rebelled against God. Our fore parents, (Adam and Eve), were created in the state of grace and yet they disobeyed God. Jesus, the Son of God, had to overcome varied temptations during his ministry. Thus, Mary underwent many trials, but she remained steadfast to God’s plan for her.
Archangel Gabriel informed her that she was going to conceive and give birth to a son whom she was to name Jesus. He would be great and would be called the Son of God and the Lord would give him the throne of his ancestor David and his kingdom would last for ever. The promise the Lord made to King David about establishing his kingdom for ever is now fulfilled in the conception and birth of Jesus Christ.
After seeking and receiving clarification that she was going to conceive through the power of the Holy Spirit, Mary accepted to be the mother of Jesus Christ when she said, “I am the handmaid of the Lord let it be done to me as you have said.”
Elizabeth confessed to Mary’s faithfulness as she, (Elizabeth, was filled with the Holy Spirit when she heard the voice of Mary and she cried out to her among other things that, “blessed is she who believed that what was said to her from the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Mary gave God praise and glory when she sang in her song of praise that, “’My soul proclaims the greatness of the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my saviour, since He has looked with favour on the lowliness of her servant. For see, from now on all generations will call me blessed.”
As the Advent Season draws to a close, we pray that through the intercession of the Blessed Mother of Jesus, we may experience a grace-filled Christmas. Amen.
Fr Chinua Okeke CSSp