Homily for December 18th, 2005.
Caution: Putting a Sunday homily on the Website is tricky business. All the viewer has is a written text. A homily, on the other hand, is "an oral event". It may not have been said or heard the way it was written. In addition, a roughly ten-minute homily is part of a roughly one-hour worship event in which God and God's people communicate with each other by means of ritual, symbol, song, proclamation, prayer. Not everything in these homilies is original. As a homilist, I rely on and at times borrow from other homilists and writers who are not properly mentioned in this format. I am often indebted to them.
Father William Marrevee, s.c.j.
4th Sunday Advent B
It is God’s intention and desire to restore and heal a broken and wounded humanity. But God’s best intentions are futile unless God finds people who are prepared to work with God to make his desire become reality. God’s best intentions need human soil in which to plant themselves and come to fruition.
In today’s Gospel passage we hear Mary say “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” That is Mary’s “Yes” to God’s plan.
There is nothing sweet and romantic about that “Yes” of Mary. It turned Mary’s own world – and that of her husband-to-be – upside down. Mary had to adjust and revise her own hopes and plans for the future. That is true for the moment and for the manner of conceiving her son Jesus who would be the long awaited and still awaited Messiah. But it remains true for later as well, when Mary must have wondered about the strange path her son was taking, the sort of path that inevitably led to his being put to death. Mary must have wondered: Is this what I said “Yes” to? Is this the way in which God’s promise of salvation is to come true?
That “Yes” of Mary is the expression of her faith in God, a faith so profound that her cousin Elizabeth and even her own son Jesus would praise her for it. Mary says “Yes”, in blessed ignorance, to the ways that God would choose to realize the promise of salvation through her. With that “Yes” Mary presents to God the sort of human soil in which God best intentions can come to fruition.
But it is useless for us to stand in admiration for that “Yes” of Mary. We must allow it to prod us to do our own part in the realization of God’s promise of salvation. There is an ancient line about Mary: “She bore the Saviour in her heart before she bore him in her womb.” None of us can imitate Mary in her bearing Christ in the womb. But all of us as believers are summoned to imitate Mary where it really counts: in bearing Christ in our heart.
That sort of bearing Christ translates in saying “Yes” to the particular way in which God asks us to collaborate with God, to be the human soil in which God’s grace-filled intentions can come to fruition.So it is entirely appropriate to pray: Mary, teach us to say “Yes”, teach us to be Christ-bearers.
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