Fourth Sunday in Advent
Today’s Gospel is probably one of the most known and loved texts in Scripture. The invitation by an angel, the message of courage, the unexpected in-breaking of the holy, the promise of life, and Mary’s open acceptance are the very things that we all long for in life – especially when we are in a place of struggle, doubt, disappointment, or fear. And so, the invitation to receive this Word of God as the living word is meant for our lives just as entirely as it was intended for Mary. Through this proclaimed word, we are asked to birth God once again in the world in real and tangible ways.
Are we ready to say, “yes”?
Are we ready to participate in the impossible yet necessary?
Are we able to let go of our capacity for life and receive God’s ability for growth to be experienced through us?
This invitation of Christmas, every Christmas, to birth the Christ at this moment is a fundamental call to believers. We are not asked to remember the birth of Jesus; we are invited to re-birth God’s love. We are not asked to celebrate; we are called to participate in the act of bringing life forth. We are not asked to be in church; we are re-defined as the church by the act of God coming into the world through us!
The original Christmas moment was a sacred one full of potential and possibility, AND it was a moment that took place in the context of a society that was deeply divided, violent, unfair, and poor. Today, we participate in a Christmas that is just as sacred and hope-filled with the birth of Christ AND in a moment in the world where we are deeply divided, violent, unfair, and poor. Every Christmas holds both the deep joy of God’s love for us and the ugly truth that we have not fully given ourselves to the birthing process of love. This Gospel reading that immerses us in Mary’s openness and acceptance to God’s way must be prayed deeply and earnestly – so that we can be prepared to yield to God’s ways as Mary was, so that we can stay with the invitation to birth love until it seeps into our thinking and acting, so that the vulnerability and intimacy expressed in the birth of Jesus can be lived by us with those who are suffering.
Listen carefully for the invitation, for the many invitations, to bring forth the light and love of God in the coming days. It is a certainty that we are being asked to bring forth the truth of Jesus, of God-with-us, in real ways. It is also a certainty that the world, our suffering sisters, and brothers, need our bold, impossible, trusting, and full acceptance of these invitations! Participate in God’s unbelievable gift of love as never before, give yourself to this impossible moment of generosity as fully as you can, and trust that God is living through you to bring forth the fullness of love, light, joy, and healing…
May the peace and beauty of this season find a lasting home in you!
Pat Daly, O.P., Dominican Sister of Caldwell