A reflection and prayer for December 24, 2017, Fourth Sunday of Advent
Brothers and sisters:
To him who can strengthen you,
according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ,
according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages
but now manifested through the prophetic writings and,
according to the command of the eternal God,
made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith,
to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ
be glory forever and ever. Amen. (Romans 16:25-27)
This brief Sunday in Advent, which concludes this awesome season of wonder, brings us two great and beautiful readings. The first lays out God’s promise to David. The Gospel reading brings us to its fulfillment in the fiat of Mary.
Never allow anyone to diminish Mary, but always remind them that her “yes” was the spark that allowed the whole pageant of our salvation to move forward. Joined to the great “yes” that was God’s word of creation, Mary’s assent co-operated with it, so that — like the still-expanding space, born of the big bang — God’s will for us, and his reclamation of us, could continue to expand as well.
The Theotokos deserves all of our reverence and appreciation because she understood the paradoxical great secret: It’s not about us.
We were born for a purpose, yes, but that purpose has never been about what the earth-bound and worldly would have us believe. We’re not here to “self-actualize” or to “make our mark.” Certainly we should work to develop our God-given potentialities, and in doing so we will help ourselves advance toward the abundant life that Jesus has told us God wants us to have. But the bottom line is that our existence, our purpose, our gifts or our weaknesses are all meant to co-operate with God toward the fulfillment of his plans — not just for each of us, but for the culmination of Creation.
And we see this in Paul’s letter to the Romans, his great doxology. It points to everything that has come before, or ever will come, including you and me and everyone we love, or hate, and every gift we possess, or yearn for, and brings it all back to Christ Jesus, for the Glory of God.
It’s not about us. Thanks be to God, it’s not about us. This is the knowledge, the ancient secret, that makes us free. Amen, and Amen. The truth that sets us free.
Come, Lord Jesus, and direct my focus away from my self, that I might best see you, and become a true co-operator with the Divine Will which is all to the good — the Good News which will be for all the people. Gloria in excelsis Deo! We are free at last. Amen.
This concludes the Advent reflections — Advent Light — for each day of this 2017 liturgical season. You can find the whole series series here.