Reflection: 4th Sunday of Advent, Cycle B
2 Sm. 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Rom. 16:25-27; Lk. 1:26-38.
We are presented today the scene of the Annunciation to Mary by the Angel Gabriel concerning the mystery of the Incarnation of the Son of God. God has decided that His Son will become man to carry out our salvation, and he needs a Mother. Will you be his mother? Even though God has already prepared her soul for this role, still God respects her free will and asks her if she will accept. We all know the story, but let us refresh our minds because this scene is full of truths for our salvation.
“Virgin”: In the Hebrew original of Isaiah, the word used was ‘almah’, meaning ‘dalaga’, maiden, one who is untouched but available. When the Jews themselves translated the Hebrew into Greek called the Septuagint, they used the word ‘parthenos’ which in Hebrew would be ‘betulah’, in English ‘virgin’, that is ‘untouched and unavailable’. Thus when Matthew wrote his Gospel in Greek he used ‘parthenos’, virgin. Mary, although betrothed to Joseph, was available only to God and to his plan of salvation.
“Full of Grace”: In Mary there is no space, nor nth of time for sin; only grace existed in her. This is a confirmation of Gen 3:15 which spoke of the “enmity” between Satan and the Mother of the Messiah. She is truly sinless throughout her existence and the Lord was with her always for she found favor with Him.
Her son will be called “Son of the Most High”. ‘Most High’ = ‘El Elyon’, was the name of God known to Abraham. Thus Mary knew that her son will be the Son of Abraham’s God. He will be called ‘holy, the Son of God’. Thus it is clear that Mary’s son will be Man and God or God made man in her. He will receive the throne of David and will rule the house of Jacob; in his humanity he will be King. And ‘his kingdom will have no end’. His kingship is both divine and human.
How can this happen? “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” It is the work of God; it will come from heaven above; it will be a divine event. There will be no human act to fertilize Mary’s ovum; it will be the Holy Spirit creating the fertilized ovum in her. Her virginity will remain intact in the conception of her son. In the nativity this Baby again will keep her virginity intact. As He comes into her womb without breaking her virginity, He will also come out of that womb keeping her virginity intact. The Baby comes out from her womb floating in the air in front of her, and she picks him up and wraps him in swaddling clothes and her womb goes back to its maiden form. As the Child is formed in her womb by a creative act of God, so now the Child comes out of her womb by a creative act of God and her womb is similarly renewed. (It is a misconception when some movies show that Mary had labor at the delivery of Jesus. “Pain in childbirth” was a punishment for original sin. Mary was sinless and she had no birth pangs.) “Your cousin Elizabeth is in her sixth month”: Mary’s reaction was one of sharing her blessings, to be expressed in service to her pregnant cousin. After receiving blessings, it is not for us to keep for ourselves but to share; not to keep but to “give it away”; all because she did not think highly of herself, but considered herself “handmaid”. In the work of salvation only God is the main actor, we are all instruments in his hand. We should all be thankful that he has looked on us with mercy and has “done great things for me”. Let us look to our Blessed Mother and seek to be like her as we approach the Crib in Bethlehem.