FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

The One Who Brought Forth Jesus

First Reading: (2 Sam 7:1-5, 8-11,16): God promised David special graces.
Second Reading:(Rom 16:25-27): God’s salvific plan is revealed.
Gospel: (Lk 1:26-38): The Annunciation
Chinese Classics:“To test jade you need to burn it for three whole days;
To distinguish good wood from bad wood, one must wait for seven long years.”(1)

Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38)

Mary was a humble country girl. The angel Gabriel who had announced John's birth, was sent to Nazareth to announce an even more extraordinary event : the birth of God's Son.

The angel's greeting stunned this humble maiden. “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” (Lk 1:28)
Probably Mary never before had heard such a respectful courteous and polite greeting. Humble as she was, it was already a gift not to be despised!

Then she heard words even more astonishing : “you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” (Lk 1:31-33)

Being a virgin, Mary could not understand what the words meant, so she asked innocently, “How can this be, since I am a virgin” (Lk 1:34)

The angel Gabriel knew Mary would not doubt his words nor refuse God's invitation, so he answered her question clearly. It is through the power of the Holy Spirit that you will conceive and bear a son. The “WORD becoming FLESH” is a new creation. It is the magnificent work of the Holy Spirit, not done by human effort. This Jesus is “not of blood or of the will of the flesh or of the will of man, but of God” (Jn 1:13)

The humble virgin then accepted, “let it be with me according to your word.” (Lk 1:38) This is a statement the Roman Catholic Church traditionally has considered very important. The Latin word “Fiat” is a word almost beyond comprehension - the Son of God became human as a result of this acceptance - fiat.

I would like to ask, “ If Mary hadn't accepted this invitation, would God have become human?” The answer is “No”. But you may say, “If Mary didn't accept, could Rosa accept? Or, if not Rosa, could Fanny or any other accept?”

Right! It doesn't matter whether it is Mary, Rosa, Fanny or any other person. But some one had to accept the invitation. If no one accepted it, God would not have become human. That is God's plan.

This is the role of human beings in God's salvific plan, a role that cannot be replaced.

We are accustomed to placing everything in God's hands, but God puts everything into our hands. God's plan and design is to have us bring up children through their parents, educate students through teachers, spread the good news through faithful Christians and experience God through our relationships with each other. If we do not cooperate with God, God does not act alone.

Therefore besides thanking God we have to thank Mary for her part in God becoming human.

Mary's faith was extraordinary, her dedication of self absolute. She wanted to be God's servant, to serve God her whole life. She was not afraid to offer her all, bear all, sacrifice all.

Her first sacrifice after her acceptance of God's invitation was loss of reputation.

She had said to the angel, “I know not man.” This means that virginity to her was very important. What Joseph her betrothed doubted was her chastity. Joseph was a righteous man. He would not declare her guilty before understanding the truth. The Gospel says Joseph was prepared to “put her away privately.”

For a virgin to face doubts about her chastity was very painful. How could she explain it? Who would believe “it is the work of the Holy Spirit”? Therefore she could only cry out to her Lord, “let it be with me according to your word.

Po Chu-yi in his poem Free Speech wrote that in this world, only time could tell whether something was right or wrong, straight or crooked. His most quoted lines are “To test jade you need to burn it for three whole days; To distinguish between good and rotten wood one must wait seven years.” (2) Put a piece of genuine jade and a piece of stone in the furnace and burn them for three days, and you will be able to tell which is genuine jade and which is stone because the jade will not turn to ashes. Leave two pieces of wood to dry in a dark corner for seven years and you can tell which is good wood and which is bad.

Time would prove everything. Mary's spirit of “let it be with me according to your word” is reflected in her life. She obeyed God in all things, every minute, every hour, not only in the beginning but throughout her entire life. Mary grasped the decisiveness of the annunciation. She was aware that she had pledged to do God's will every moment of her life.

Therefore Mary played a very important role in God's plan of salvation.

(1) 中國文化: 試玉要燒三日滿,辨材需待七年期。
(2) 白居易有一首《放言》詩,說明世上許多是非曲直都只可以由時間來證明,其中的名句是:「試玉要燒三日滿,辨材需待七年期」