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Doctrines & Morals

Full of Grace

4th Sunday of Advent B


Full of Grace


My dear brothers and sisters in Christ, its the last day of the season of Advent, “Our justification comes from the grace of God. Grace is favor, the free and undeserved help that God gives us to respond to his call to become children of God, adoptive sons, partakers of the divine nature and of eternal life. Grace is a participation in the life of God. It introduces us into the intimacy of Trinitarian life: by Baptism the Christian participates in the grace of Christ, the Head of his Body.”(CCC 1996-1997) 


First Reading  ( 2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8-12, 16)

David was the favourite King of Israel.  Even today, he is still revered, for the special charisma he had to lead the people of Israel to conquer their enemies and to unite the twelve tribes into a kingdom. Today’s passage tells us about David’s old age, the rivalry among his sons was great. It had gotten to a situation where they could no longer wait for David to die before struggling to occupy the throne. They had begun to fight themselves over who will succeed their father on the throne. So David began to put things in order. This also led him to reflect on the life he was living in his palace, while the ark of God was still there in the tent, like that of the shepherd out on the hills. He therefore decided to build a house for God.


David, called in his counsellor and prophet, Nathan, and informed him of this noble idea. Nathan thought of it as a good plan as well.  But later that night God spoke to Nathan who returned to the king with the words of the first reading today. What David was looking for, peace in his family and consolidation of his throne, through succession by his sons were all granted but the wish to build a befitting house of worship for God was not granted him.


David said, “Look I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent.” If only we stop to think like David, we may learn to live well. Though God did not approve that David should build a Temple for him, David went further to source down the materials that will eventually be used by his successor to build the house for God. That is another lesson we have to learn from this great king.  There are so many people who place obstacles on the path of their successors. They waste the resources at their disposal and go about borrowing money in the name of the society, group, state or nation. When they eventually are out of office, even the burden of servicing the loans will not allow their successor to put in place, any meaningful programme. Do we not have leaders who are mortgaging our future to further their own political agenda? What happens after their term of office? There is a great need for caution.


Second Reading (Romans 16: 25-27)

In this short passage, Paul connects the first reading to the Gospel. Jesus becomes the fulfilment of the promise God made to David.—“He is the mystery which was kept secret for long ages but now disclosed.” Jesus born of the line of David is the eternal king who will reign in place of David and lead the scattered children of God back to their heavenly homeland. 


Gospel (Luke 1:26-38)

The Gospel today presents the story of the annunciation. Mary by this visit of the Angel and the pronouncement of the message, became the ark of the New Covenant.  

The appearance of the angel in this passage follows a pattern already seen in the Old Testament. In this case there was the appearance of the angel, Mary showed some fear, followed by the announcement, then the question and explanation which were followed by the announcement of the signs that will follow.


The Angel’s greeting “Hail full of grace, the Lord is with you” has become our daily prayer and greeting in the ‘Hail Mary’ but this greeting calls us to reflect on what grace means—the supernatural gift of God—with which Mary is already filled. This is a pointer to the privilege of the her Immaculate Conception but also a testament to her life lived under the guidance of God. The angel again said to her, “Do not be afraid, for you have found favour with God.” This is why we honour her too. Because God was first to honour her filling her with grace and showing her favour. That’s the reason Mary in her magnificat realising this great favour of God said, “Now all generations will call her blessed.” Anyone who fails to do so only denies himself the opportunity to share in the honour bestowed on her by God. When the angel told her of the purpose of the visit—“You will conceive in your womb and bear a Son and you shall call his name Jesus…” Mary sought an explanation on how this will happen, she exercised no doubt, her faith was seeking understanding—“How will this be since I do not know man.” This points clearly to her virginity, a virginity that is perpetual. Once the Angel has given that explanation on the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit, she immediately gave her ‘YES.’ 


My dear brothers and sisters, what would have happened if Mary had refused the message of the angel? How often do we like Mary say, ‘yes’ to God? Freedom, happiness and fulfilment are more likely to be found in the acceptance of God’s will.  The more difficult the task, to which we devote ourselves out of love, the greater the reward with God.


In her response, Mary gives us a great example.  She didn’t say to the angel ‘sorry, I have my own plans.  I want to do my own thing.’  Rather, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.’ Mary made a complete gift of herself to God, and accepted the task He gave her. Even though the implications will be far reaching, she trusted that God would give her all the help she needed. She trusted so deeply in God that she was open to all possibilities.  She gave up control over her future and let God define her life.


Dear friends, life imposes so much duties on us. Besides duties to ourselves, there are duties to others, and to God. What will happen to the world if everyone just thinks of himself or herself alone, and insist on doing just their own thing, their own way, seeking their own freedom, happiness, and fulfilment, independent of God and others? Those who accept God’s will in the way Mary did, may not find happiness and fulfilment in the eyes of the world and by human standard and judgement, but they certainly are the blessed and they find peace in the midst of the chaos that surrounds them.  


Let us pray: O God, grant us your grace to be ever willing to say yes to you at all times. Amen. May the Almighty God bless you, the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit. Amen!

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