Homily – December 18

In the first chapter of Luke we have the telling of two angelic visitations. The first was to a priest Zachariah who was taking his turn serving at the temple. Luke tells us that Zachariah and his wife Elizabeth were worthy in the sight of God, they were advanced in years and Elizabeth was barren. Zachariah is told that Elizabeth would conceive and have a son. Their son would be a delight to them and many would rejoice at his birth and he would bring back many of the sons of Israel to the Lord.

In today’s gospel we hear of how the Angel Gabriel came to a young 13 year old girl who was betrothed, promised to a fellow youngster name Joseph. Mary was confused and frightened by this strange visitation. She tried to get her head around what this strange being was saying to her. She wasn’t married yet, she was still a virgin and yet in some strange way she was to conceive and have a son. How would she explain this to her parents and Joseph?

The angel tells Mary about her cousin Elizabeth’s pregnancy to convince her that although all he says is so strange, so out of the ordinary, the reality is ‘nothing is impossible with God.’ Mary must have deeply believed that truth, nothing is impossible with God. So she got beyond the question ‘how can this happen?’ And trusting in the wonder of it all, the mystery of it all, Mary simply said ‘let it be.’ And the word was made flesh and dwelt among us and the rest is history and mystery. What we celebrate this fourth Sunday of Advent is our affirmation of faith in the transcendental origin of Jesus. This is not something of flesh and blood this is of God for whom nothing is impossible.

Pope Paul VI referred to Mary as the one whose life was available to God. Be it done to me according to your word. As we ready ourselves for the celebration of the birth of Christ may we too make our lives available to God by making ourselves “available, open, welcoming to all those who come to us in need.” Like Mary may we be generous enough to be available to everyone who comes to us looking for love, understanding, support, acceptance, healing and forgiveness.