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Chosen by God
Fourth Sunday of Advent
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel,“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Opening Prayer: Beloved Lord, I come to you at this moment with my heart open, and my mind lifted toward you. Send your Holy Spirit down upon me as I reflect upon this Gospel passage, and make a new clean heart in me to live out your Word.
- Chosen: Mary was set apart in order to carry out God’s redemptive plan as the mother of Jesus. God blessed her as the Immaculate Conception so that she would be able to wholly align her will with his will. We too are chosen by God to be his disciples and given all the gifts we need to accomplish it. As Christmas approaches, it can be helpful to prayerfully reflect on just how much God has blessed us with spiritual gifts–with the Catholic faith, the Sacraments, the Eucharist, our vocation, our community–all of which can help us to enter into heaven and empower us to actively participate in the salvation of souls.
- Unworthy/Mary’s Humility: God asked a huge favor of Mary, and he asks huge favors from us too. Our responses can tend to differ from Mary’s incredible “yes.” We sometimes respond like St. Peter in Luke’s Gospel (Luke 5:8): “Leave me, Lord, for I am a sinful man.” Although we’re all sinners, we don’t want to overplay our unworthiness because we know that our “yes” is contingent not on our capacities but on God’s. Mary understood who she was. She knew she was a lowly creature, but she believed that God could work through her. Mary’s first response to the Angel Gabriel–“How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”–was not a doubt or hesitation, but rather, a question that allowed Mary to enter more deeply into the conversation. Her inquiry expressed a willingness to understand something divine and mysterious. Let us also seek more fully to understand the mysteries of God so that we can better carry out his plan for our life.
- God’s Divine Plan: God chose the perfect time in human history to send his Son. In this Advent season, we are grateful for the opportunity to celebrate the coming birth of the Messiah, and we long for him to come again. Mary helped prepare the way for Christ’s birth, so let us beseech her to help purify our souls so that we’re able to take in the very special graces Jesus has for us this Christmas.
Conversing with Christ: Thank you, Lord, for choosing me. I may not understand fully why you chose me, but after examining Mary’s humble fiat, I too choose to exclaim: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” I pray especially in this Advent season, as my soul longs for your return, that I may always answer your call with a humble “Amen” and quick obedience to your Father’s divine plan.
Resolution: Lord, today by your grace I will pray the joyful mysteries of the rosary for my family, friends, loved ones, and myself, that we will humbly answer God’s calls in our lives.
For Further Reflection: Watch Bishop Barron’s commentary on “The Greatest Women Ever.”
Joseph Peach is an author whose published works include the Catholic inspirational book Uncover Truth, It Is Hidden in Front of Your Eyes and the epic fantasy series The Chronicles of The Cursed Living Blessed. He also hosts the Catholic podcast “A “Light” in a World Filled with Lights.”