Luke 1: 26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin's name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
"Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you."
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
"Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
"Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end."
But Mary said to the angel,
"How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?"
And the angel said to her in reply,
"The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God."
Mary said, "Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word."
Then the angel departed from her.
Prayer: Come Holy Spirit, come by the means of the powerful intercession of the Immaculate Heart of Mary, Thy well beloved Spouse.
In the Gospel today on this 4th Sunday of Advent-the only day of the 4th week of Advent, let us take time to truly ponder this passage we all know so well. Listen both with your ears and your heart. Read it slowly out loud and listen to every word as if you are hearing it for the first time and the last time. What is God saying to you? What is He speaking to you?
There are many points that rise in the heart, but for the sake of this Lectio, just three will be mentioned. This Icon is Mother of the Divine Word. Its on my desk next to my Bible. If you look into her eyes, she beckons you, to listen to God's Word. She is intimately apart of it.
The first point: Listen to all the names mentioned in this passage: Gabriel, Joseph, David, Mary, Jacob and Elizabeth. Reflect upon what God has done in each of these lives and why the Angel Gabriel mentioned all of this to our Blessed Mother? You too have a story, of God's love and Presence in your life. Ponder this beautiful Truth. See how often God has spoken to you though whatever means he chose, observe how He confirmed His Presence and action in your life.
The second point - is our Blessed Mother. There is so much to ponder here, I love watching our Mary our Mother. When I watch our Mary, she teaches me how to 'Listen to God.' She teaches me how to close my lips and open my mind and heart in awe of what God is saying, doing and asking. Watch her, as she listens, where is she? Who is with her? What is she understanding and doing? Watch her as she receives and 'makes a home' for the Word spoken to her by the angel Gabriel. The WORD is being spoken and conceived. Let us focus on one simple sentence: "The Lord is with you". Mary was filled with God. She was loving Him and living in His Will moment by moment before she conceived Him. In her "YES" her "FIAT" to God, she conceived Him. She became the 'ark of the covenant', the 'tabernacle of the Most High.' Mary always carries Jesus to us, and us to Jesus. Let us ponder a simple truth. When is the Lord with us? When we love and live in God's will, yes He is with us. When we open our hearts to 'make a home for the Word within us', He is with us. When we receive Him in Holy Communion and in the Sacraments, yes He is with us. When we love with a pure heart, He is with us. Do you believe this? If you believe this, 'nothing will be the same', even though everything will be the same. If you truly believe that "The Lord is with you", then you are never alone, you are always in His company, you always have His Loving Presence, His 'ear' His counsel, His wisdom, His strength, you always have the One who can set you free from all slavery to sin. The helper close at hand! Our Savior is with us, Emmanuel! Lastly in this particular point, ponder the words Mary asks of the angel: "How can this be, since I have no relations with man?" So often this response is compared to Zachariah but it seems me the manner in which this is said in entirely different. To say the words with doubt and questioning is a very different manner than saying the words as a statement waiting to hear (with awe and excitement) what 'THE PLAN" is. Mary believed already, Mary knew the great promised of a Savior, listen to how she says the words-can you hear?
The third point: "then the angel departed from her." The messenger of God departs and Mary is left alone with God. There is a point in our relationship with God, when we commit and we receive and accept graces and this 'interior yes' to God leaves us very much alone with God in this decision. This place of original solitude is a beautiful place not a frightening place, as often the evil one, or our own imagination contrives it. This place of solitude is a place where we are not alone, but we are alone with God, the giver of the grace. In this sacred space Mary has the 'breath' to ponder this great happening and to allow it all to rest upon her and she speaks to God in her heart and now dwelling in her body. In our lives too, there are 'messengers' God sends to us, they carry His Word that is meant to take root and dwell within our heart. Pray about this, when did this happen to you recently? Did you notice the movement inside your heart, after someone perhaps said something to you-and it deeply hit you- that you simply wanted to be 'alone with God' just to ponder it all. Here we find Mary-she knows the joy of being alone with God, listening to God. Let us learn from our Blessed Mother, how to listen to God, how to listen for God.
Prayer: Hail and Blessed be the hour and moment in which the Son of God, was born, of the most pure virgin Mary, at midnight, in Bethlehem, in piercing cold, in that hour vouchsafe O my God, to hear our prayers and Grant our petitions, through the merits of our Savior Jesus Christ and his Blessed Mother, Amen.