Homily for 4th Sunday of Advent, Year B

The Mystery Hidden In Mary – The Ark Of God’s New Covenant

Rdgs: (1st: 1Sam 7, 1-5. 8-16: Ps 88, 2-5. 27. 29; 2nd: Rom 16, 25-27: Gos: Lk 1, 26-38)           

This brief reflection was written by Rev. Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a Member of the Congregation of the Holy Ghost Fathers and Brothers (Spiritans). He is currently working at the Sanctuario del Espiritu Santo, en Dorado, Puerto Rico, del Internacional Grupo Espiritano De Puerto Rico – Republica Dominicana. For more details and comments contact him on: canice_c_njoku@yahoo.com, canicechukwuemeka@gmail.com.

“Rejoice so highly favored, the lord is with you…You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus…the Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David!” Today is the fourth and last Sunday of Advent season. We are just a couple of days away from Christmas. Today’s celebration therefore is a great song to the everlasting love of God revealed in his covenant with his servant David and his entire people. This Mystery behind and within his covenant with his people kept secret for ages past is what is about to be revealed in the Most Blessed Virgin Mary, the ark of God’s New Covenant. Today, the good news about the birth of the messiah was in a most spectacular fashion conveyed to Mary, and humbly, she accepted it.

In our first reading, out of love and in appreciation of God’s love, David moved to build a house for God. However, God would not allow him, but instead, made a promise to David, and sealed it with a covenant: “…I will preserve the offspring of your body after you…I will be a father to him and he will be a son to me…your house and your sovereignty will always stand secure…your throne will be established forever” This promise and covenant is what we expect its fulfillment in few days time. It is based on this same promise and covenant to David that both Luke and Matthew proceeded to trace and write the genealogy of Jesus Christ (Mtt 1, 1-17; Luke 3, 23-38). The reason is to prove that Jesus is actually an off spring of David and so, is the son of whom the prophets spoke about in relation to the throne of David. The hidden mystery of the old covenant is about to be revealed in the new covenant, the offspring of David and the Son of God.

In our second reading, first, Paul gives glory to God because of the strength he gave him to preach the good news, and then throws more light on the fact that Jesus is the Mystery that has been kept hidden for ages. His revelation is the salvation of the world. This good news is the mystery which God himself concealed in the covenant of old. This is enough reason to give God glory today, and during the imminent season of Christmas in full view. During these few days before Christmas, as we tidy up what is remaining of our preparation, we must continue on a note of giving all glory to God for what he is about to do in our lives and in our world at large. Paul’s message today sets us on the fast track towards the incarnation of God’s word which is very close at hand.

The Gospel of today presents us with two important figures in the “drama of the nativity of Christ.” First the angel Gabriel, the faithful messenger appears with a message. His message is about the fulfillment of a promise, and about the revelation of the hidden Mystery of the old covenant in the new. A mystery remains a mystery only, until God decides to unveil it, and Jesus is that Mystery who will be revealed to us on Christmas day through God’s instrument Mary, who willing accepted Christ to take her flesh. Mary’s role in the salvation history stands out clearly today. She receives the message calmly in spite of all odds against her. As the ark of God’s new covenant, she yields easily by giving her fiat: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it is done unto me according to your words.” With these innocent words she accepted the role assigned to her before time (Ish 7, 10-14). Not only was Mary’s faith a statement of willing donation and submission of herself to God’s own will for the salvation of the world, it is also a statement of her humility, generosity, courage, and love for humanity. She took such an enormous risk that none of us might be ready to undertake even for the best of price or reward. She did this in spite of all the inconveniences and risks attached to it especially, the possibility that her proposed spouse Joseph would divorce her and that her reputation would be badly smeared in the deeply religious and cultural family, and community of her time.

Today therefore, just as Mary got the message and cherished it in her heart and is willing to give us the Messiah, we too must cherish the good news about the unveiling of the Mystery of God’s new covenant to us. Let me remind you my dear brethrens, that the season we are about to enter is a season of joy, receiving, sharing, and giving. Today the angel brought the good news to Mary so also, we must continue spreading this message. This is a season in which we must send some good news, through cards, gifts of love and good will messages. Let us try and reach out to others especially, the poor, the week, the aged, and especially those who cannot offer us anything in return. The good news is also for them, and we can be their angel Gabriel through whom the wonderful joy of Christmas can reach them.

Finally, as we wait for the next couple of days for the manifestation of the new covenant and the fulfillment of God’s promise to his servant David, let us join the psalmist in proclaiming: “I will sing forever of your love, O lord.  Through all the ages, my mouth will proclaim your truth!”

Peace be with You!

Maranatha!!

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