Tuesday, 20 December 2022 : 4th Week of Advent (Homily and Scripture Reflections)

Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today as we listened to the words of the Scriptures, we are all reminded again on the love of God which has become Incarnate and present in our midst as the Son of Man, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ, as we approach ever closer to the end of the current season of Advent and thus the beginning of the glorious and joyful season of Christmas. And on this day, we are all reminded through the examples of the two people to whom God had revealed His Good News, through the prophet Isaiah and the Archangel Gabriel respectively, how they responded to the Lord’s effort to reach out to them, and how the responses were so different from each other and how these can also reflect what we ourselves have done in our own response towards the Lord and His love for us.

In our first reading today, we heard again the famous passage from the Book of the prophet Isaiah in which God spoke to King Ahaz of Judah through Isaiah regarding the Sign that He would show to him and to all of His people in Judah, but which Ahaz then refused to obey or listen to. Isaiah told Ahaz to ask God for a Sign, the Sign that God would willingly and generously showed to His beloved ones, to show them the path of Hope and Light out of the darkness. But King Ahaz refused to ask for a Sign, and said that he would not put God to the test. This was followed immediately by a stern rebuke from Isaiah to Ahaz as he and many of his predecessors had disobeyed the Lord and put the Lord to the test so many times, and misled and misguided the people of God down the wrong path that what he had said, was truly a hypocrite’s word.

Not only that, but it might even be seen as King Ahaz not having faith and trust in God, as he would likely prefer to trust more in various things and worldly means to secure his reign and rule rather than to follow the Lord and His ways. Ahaz himself was one of the kings who was considered and counted among the ‘wicked’ ones as he led the people into the path of sin and disobedience, abandoning the Lord their God and worshipping instead the pagan idols and demons, which were placed upon the Lord’s sacred Altar, desecrating the holy places and also neglecting the observance of the Law and commandments of the Lord. Thus, Isaiah proclaimed God’s words that the Sign would indeed one day come, that all those who eventually witnessed it, would believe that indeed, God is the one and only True God, and not all the false idols that Ahaz and the people of Judah had worshipped.

On the contrary, if we remember the Gospel passage today, we heard of the Annunciation of Mary, the moment when the Archangel Gabriel proclaimed the Good News of God to Mary, that she would become the Mother of God, as she had been chosen by God to be the one through whom God’s own begotten Son, the Son of God, Incarnate in the flesh and becoming the Son of Man, have become the manifestation and personification of God’s eternal and ever-enduring love for us. This is the moment when the promise and the words of God that He had spoken through Isaiah before King Ahaz came to be fulfilled, as Mary was the Virgin that God spoke of, who would be bearing a Child, and this Child would be called Emmanuel, ‘God is with us’. This alone has already shown us that the Child that Mary bore within her, is truly not just like any other ordinary children.

Most importantly, as contrasted with the attitude showed by King Ahaz, Mary obeyed the Lord and believed in Him wholeheartedly, although she did wonder why she among all the women had been entrusted with such a responsibility. Yet, what she asked the Archangel Gabriel was made out of natural uncertainty and honest bewilderment as such a great revelation was made before her, not withstanding the fact that Mary was a mere young woman and virgin from the small town of Nazareth in Galilee, a very unimportant place and town, and herself coming from a relatively unknown origin. All of that must have obviously been hard to reconcile at the first moment, when Mary heard of the Good News from the Archangel Gabriel, and hence, her question of how it would be possible for that to happen to her, considering that she was still a virgin, to bear a Son.

God revealed to Mary all that He would do through His Archangel Gabriel, and what is important is how Mary responded to all of that. Unlike King Ahaz who refused to obey the Lord, His will and commandments, His request and wish, Mary gave herself totally to the Lord and accepted everything that God had planned to happen through her. Through her response that she is the ‘handmaid of the Lord’ and that it may be done unto her as the Lord has willed it, Mary’s yes to the Lord made through His Archangel Gabriel was the catalyst that sparked the beginning of the final fulfilment of God’s long awaited salvation and liberation for His people. Through Mary’s acceptance of her role in becoming the Mother of God and Saviour of the whole world, she has shown us all that each and every one of us as Christians, should also obey the Lord, listen to Him and His commands, Law and will.

Brothers and sisters in Christ, as we draw now ever closer to Christmas, we truly need to ask ourselves, are we like that of King Ahaz, who refused to obey the Lord and chose to walk his own path? Or are we more like Mary, whose obedience and commitment to the Lord brought forth the Saviour into this world? We do not have to look far but to our own way of preparing ourselves for the upcoming celebration of Christmas as well as our actions and works in life. We should see if we have allowed our pride and ego to come between us and our obligations to God, just as King Ahaz had done. His pride, ego and worldly desires had become stumbling blocks preventing him from admitting his errors and that he was in need of God’s guidance and help, and hence instead leading the people of God further and further into the path of sin. Hence, we should be more like Mary, in her faith in God and love for Him, and also for the humility that she had in embracing and accepting what the Lord willed to do through her.

Let us all make good use of the remaining time this Advent season to reconsider our paths in life, and see in what way we can reconnect ourselves with God and draw closer to Him, and if we have let worldly temptations, desires, ambitions, pride and greed, as well as all the excesses of worldly attachments and things to distract us thus far, then we should start making the effort to distance ourselves from those and return once again, wholeheartedly towards God. Let us all make our Christmas celebration most worthy and meaningful, as we grow to understand that all the celebration and joy of Christmas is not about ourselves and all the pleasures we shall enjoy, but rather is a joyful celebration of God’s love made manifest and tangible before us all through His Son, Our Lord and Saviour, Jesus Christ.

May God be with us all and may He continue to guide and lead us down the right path, that we may continue to seek Him and be ever better Christians, inspired by the faith and examples that His own Mother Mary has shown us. May all of us be more courageous and able to also say ‘yes’ to the Lord calling on us to follow Him. May all of us continue to have a blessed and fruitful season of Advent, towards the joyful Christmas that is soon to come. Amen.

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