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According to Your Word

This is the 3rd Sunday of Advent, and Christmas is only a week away. There’s something special in the air, an excitement, a kind of anticipation that’s not like any other time of the year. We look forward to the parties and the presents. But we know there is so much more to it than that, because we share the anticipation of an angel.

Think about the Annunciation story St. Luke tells in his gospel. God sent the angel Gabriel to Nazareth to speak to a young woman there named Mary. His task was to tell her about God’s great plan and what her part in that plan would be. Perhaps Mary was sitting quietly in some peaceful corner of her home or up on the roof watching the sun go down, when there was a great burst of light. And suddenly, there he stood, larger-than-life, and totally awesome to see, maybe even frightening, because one of the first things Gabriel said was: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God (Luke 1:30). The angel then went on to present God’s plan to Mary; he answered her questions, and even gave her some good news about her cousin, Elizabeth. And then he paused. With great anticipation he waited for Mary’s reply. 

“Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Luke 1:38). Mary said, “Yes.” How wonderful it must have been on that day: the magnificent angel and the humble young woman, chosen by God Himself, pure and gentle and not-at-all prepared for what she was hearing. And then she said it, the sentence that would change the world forever. “May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary had said “Yes” to God! The celebration in heaven must have been extraordinary!  

Throughout the Scriptures, we read how God has communicated with human beings: to the Jews He made promises and offered a covenant; to David, He spoke through a prophet. Through Jesus, He gave us the Good News, revealed His majesty, and explained His commandments. And to Mary, He sent an angel. All of us probably have heard God speak to us, in one way or another. And when God speaks, things happen. When the angel Gabriel appeared to Mary, he placed the final piece of the puzzle in Mary’s humble and obedient hands. Now, the power of God’s word was about to change the course of human history. 

Of course, that’s not the end of the story. Actually, it’s just the beginning, for Mary, and for us. There is still a lot of work to be done. How do you suppose God will speak to you the next time He has a job for you to do? Will He send an angel? Probably not. But He might send someone from the parish or the community. “The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few” (Matthew 9:37b). We shouldn’t be afraid to say, “yes” when someone asks for our help. And if the job seems too big, recall the words of the angel: “do not be afraid” for “nothing will be impossible for God.” Then, like Mary, you and I can offer Him our own humble “yes,” with absolute trust in the promises and the faithfulness of our God!

When Mary said, “May it be done to me according to your word,” she helped set in motion the final stage of God’s greatest plan, His plan for the salvation of the world! What great thing does God want to accomplish through you and me? The only way to find out is to say, “Lord, may it be done to me according to Your word.”

What a wonderful mother God chose for Jesus. Her humility and obedience, her faith and her trust gave her the courage to stand before an angel…. and to kneel before a cross. I want to have that kind of faith, the kind that knows that “nothing will be impossible for God.”


“Holy is His Name”

 Readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year A)

  • The Birth of Jesus Foretold. Luke 1:26-38
  • 2 Samuel 7:1-16
  • Psalms 89:2-5,27,29
  • Romans 16:25-27
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