Resources - 4th Sunday in Advent
Year B: Luke 1:26-38
- The Annunciation - 4th Sunday in Advent
This well known
Gospel passage has also become a well loved prayer - The Hail Mary, a prayer many
of us use each day and perhaps because of our familiarity we can miss some significant
parts of this passage. Angels are not really a part of our common experience today
but they are frequently described in the Scriptures and often when it comes to
announcing an unexpected birth eg. Abraham and Sarah of Isaac and then there is
Sampson and Samuel. This "good news" shows that the expectations of
the past are now being fulfilled and that God's plan is being accomplished.
particular angel is saying some powerful things to Mary and using language that
must be taken seriously. It is worth remembering that Mary was probably about
14 and while betrothed to Joseph, was still living with her parents because of
her age. It is worth reflecting on how a 14 year old girl today would respond
to such a message. It was clear however, that Mary was undoubtedly open to listening
to what the angel was asking of her despite the shocking nature of the request.
virgin conception was through the power of God's Holy Spirit and this truth has
been protected and upheld since the earliest time of the Reign of God movement
with the pre 50AD Creed incorporating this reality and has been maintained throughout
The Scriptures state that Mary "was deeply
disturbed" and yet, despite this, Mary is a model of openness and receptivity,
regardless of the apparent impossibility of what is being asked and the prospect
of subsequent hardships. This passage is one I have frequently spent time reflecting
on and this has lead me to prayer that is more open to listening to God and helps
put aside those urges to ask God to do things.
try to organise our lives to suit us and it is a pity that God does not see things
quite the same way. There are just so many things that appear clear to us that
would be the best result and so we go about asking God to sort things the way
we have planned. However, by spending time with this passage God is teaching us
to be still and be open to what God's plan for us might be.
we are quiet and reflecting on the goodness of God we are more likely to be open
to what God has in mind for us. Yes, it might be different to what God asked of
Mary but it could be just as shocking but the joy of it all is that when we say
"yes" to God it might turn our world upside down but we end up in a
most peaceful place. It might be like Mary's situation - filled with apparent
impossibility with the prospect of subsequent hardships but we are never alone
and we are filled with peace because of Emmanuel - God-with-us.
Year C: Matt 1:18-24 - How Jesus came to be
born - 4th Sunday in Advent
As Advent draws to a close
we hear about Jesus and how he came to be born. Joseph is betrothed to Mary and
the normal age of girls at betrothal is 12 ½. Girls often stayed with their
families during this betrothal time until the time was right to be married.
know little of Joseph except that he was a son of David and some scholars have
suggested that he was quite a bit older than Mary and could have been a widower
with a family. We know that Mary was a very young girl when the angel appeared
to her and she accepted God's plan for her. We read that Joseph was a righteous
and just man which means he is obedient to the Law. When Joseph heard that Mary
was pregnant, then the letter of the Law was to have an adulteress stoned. But,
Joseph was also a compassionate man which prevents him from extracting the full
penalty of the Law, hence his decision to "divorce her informally."
With both Mary and Joseph receiving visits from an angel,
these visits sound almost commonplace, but it is not so much the angel that is
the focus rather the will of God being made known to them. Joseph is assured that
Mary is not an adulteress and by naming the child, Joseph acts as a legal father.
It can appear as if Jesus is being given two names - Jesus and Emmanuel. However,
he is named Jesus by Joseph, a name based on a Hebrew name meaning "YHWH
is salvation" and later when Jesus is ministering to the people and they
experience his charism, his miracles, his teaching, his understanding of God,
and as a result "they will call him Emmanuel."
is by experiencing the man Jesus that people will understand that God is with
them. Jesus is saying, "I will be your God and you will be my people."
There is a wonderful intimacy in this statement that is most attractive. Through
the life of Jesus where he worked to bring about the Reign of God and through
his death where he brings salvation to the world, Jesus continues to be 'God with
us' through the Church in its communal life today. It is here in community that
we can continue to experience Emmanuel and by getting to know Jesus.
is here in community that we are nourished by God's Word and Sacraments to be
the face of God to those around us, to be on Mission to ensure that 'God with
us' become a common experience for more people, it is all about bringing peace
to our part of the world.
ANGLE: "This is how the birth of Christ came about."
is how the birth of Christ came about. Mary had to agree to God's will. Joseph
had to follow the advice and "Be not afraid". This is how the birth
of Christ came about. This is how miracles can occur. If we agree to God's will.
If we are not afraid. Or else it won't happen. No miracles. No amazing things.
God's plan of Jesus being born into the world in poverty - as a leader and example
for all - could not have happened if there were no humans ready to go with it.
Our Creator can see the whole picture
of what is going on: the future and the past, as well as the East and the West.
Which is why it's probably a good idea to trust and go with it. But too often
we block it because we want our own way - not God's. And we are too afraid. Of
what people will think or say. Or too afraid of losing control. If we want to
see God at work, we have to go with God's will and we have to "Be not afraid".
This is how the birth of Christ came about. And this is how more miracles will
come about. If we let them.
Ministry Resources 4th Sunday in Advent
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