IV Sunday of Advent

IV Sunday of Advent

Gio, 17 Dic 20 Lectio Divina - Anno B

First Reading -2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16

Responsorial Psalm 89:2-5,27,29

Second Reading - Romans 16:25-27

Gospel Reading: Luke 1:26-38

 Opening prayer   

God our redeemer, who prepared the Blessed Virgin Mary to be the mother of your Son: grant that, as she looked for his coming as our saviour, so we may be ready to greet him when he comes again as our judge; who is alive and reigns with you, in the unity of  the Holy Spirit, one God, now and for ever.

This Sunday is the last stage of the journey of the season of Advent before the celebration of Christmas, advent which has the task of introducing us to the mystery of the Incarnation and its profound meaning, as the fulfilment of the promises of the Old Testament.    

2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16

First reading is taken from the 2nd book of Samuel. We are towards the year 1000. King David, after having conquered the conquerable, after having built a strong and rich kingdom, remembers that God, His ark with the tablets of the Law, dwells under a tent and, taken by sacred ardour, solemnly announces to Nathan that he wants to build a temple to God. Nathan is happy! Finally, a temple in which to worship! But, and here we all open our ears, God appears to Nathan in a dream and says to him: "Tell my servant David, the Lord will make a house for you." David will not build a temple to God, but God will build it for David and his descendants. It is not we who seek to reach God, it is God who takes the initiative, it is he who reaches us, it is he who loves us until he becomes our gaze, our fatigue, our pain, our smile. 

Romans 16: 25 - 27

The doxology that closes the letter to the Romans, is a hymn of praise addressed to God and retraces the fundamental reasons for God's intervention in the history of humanity. In particular it refers to the divine "mystery", captured in its structure of reality first hidden and then revealed. The language is apocalyptic. The gospel of Christ is seen at the centre of the history that took place between God and humanity. All time, past, present and future acquires meaning, God's silence has been torn apart by the Word. 
God is the one who can make believers steadfast, and he did so through the good news (gospel) preached by Paul. It is therefore through preaching that one grows and strengthens one's faith. But this good news is nothing other than the announcement, the proclamation of a person, Jesus Christ, his actions, his words, his death and resurrection. This good news and this announcement, however, were a mystery, a profound reality that remained hidden for very long years. After this long time, however, it was revealed. 
Then comes the song of praise, the glorification of God, for this splendid plan of communion and salvation. It is a liturgical praise that comes to God through Jesus Christ, the one through whom the Word is fully revealed. It does not matter who announces, but what he announces, and the Pauline Gospel announces that Jesus Christ will come as predicted by the prophetic scriptures, as if to say that the whole Old Testament is a progressive prophetic "pedagogy" of the coming of Emmanuel, of the adventus Domini. It is truly an unfathomable mystery to see God who conditions salvation to a "Yes".

Luke 1, 26 - 38   

A few days before Christmas, the Liturgy offers us once again the page of the Annunciation: it is evident that there is no chronological justification, because this event took place nine months earlier, but this Gospel helps us to prepare for Christmas. In the Annunciation, the angel tells Mary that the promise made by God to King David is about to be fulfilled, the promise of his successor who would reign forever, the Messiah. The fulfilment of the promise is greater than expected (and this often happens in the works of God): Christ, in fact, is the Son of God. Mary, then, asks the angel how this will happen and God's messenger. he replies that the child will not have a human father, but will be conceived by the Holy Spirit. It is an extraordinary plan; it is something unheard of what God has achieved through Mary: she has become the mother of His eternal Son. This is a wonderful thing that has changed the history of humanity. In this passage, the disproportion, even in the length of the discourses, between the promises of the angel and the answers of Mary is to be noted. Faced with the marvellous predictions of the archangel, Mary humbly replies that she is the "handmaid of the Lord" and expresses her "yes" to God's plan. Mary recognizes herself as small before God, but she realizes that her availability is important for the realization of God's plan and gives her assent. Her attitude corresponds to that of her Son, who coming into the world says: “ Behold, I come to do, O God, Your will ”, as it says in the letter to the Hebrews; and Mary says: “ Here I am, I am the servant of the Lord ”. The virgin's response is perfectly in line with the dispositions of her Son who enters the world, and she reveals herself to be God's perfect collaborator. In the Magnificat Mary sings that God "has exalted the humble" and this expression applies well to her, that with her humble availability she allowed the realization of God's plan.     

The merciful gaze of God the Father, after having seen the miserable state in which our humanity was reduced, rests on man outside the earthly paradise, naked, frightened and severely scarred by sin and heralds the redemption and victory of the Virgin over the ancient opponent. God, always faithful to his promises, invites us to meditate on the Angel's announcement to Mary, the little virgin of Nazareth. She is defined as " full of grace ", already filled with every gift, because she is immaculate, conceived without sin, ready to welcome the Word who becomes flesh as in a luminous living tabernacle, to come among us. The future Mother, small and poor as she defines herself, cannot immediately understand how she can become a mother without knowing a man, but just enlightened by the Archangel Gabriel that this will happen through the work of the Holy Spirit and that everything falls within the wonderful divine plan of the human being.  Mary declares her complete availability: « Here I am, I am the servant of the Lord; what you said may happen to me». It concretely means free and total adherence to God's will forever, without reserve, right up to the end, up to Calvary. It also means active participation in the earthly mission of her Son linked to time and to that which, like a memorial, endures over the centuries. John the Evangelist would say after Mary's assent: " And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us; and we contemplated his glory, glory as of the only begotten Son who comes from the Father, full of grace and of truth ". The miracle of the Incarnation is about to repeat itself; Christmas is upon us: we are still invited to repeat our " here I am " to the Lord and to contemplate the glory of the Son who is born a Child, but who is full of grace and truth. These gifts that are urgent for each of us and that the ever-virgin Mother is ready to give us.

In a few days it's Christmas. And once again we feel unprepared. The liturgy then takes us by the hand and accompanies us, pointing out the one who best lived God's expectation: Mary. With her as a model, we suddenly understand what Christmas is: not the memory of a historical event that happened at that time, but the acceptance of a fact that is happening now: the incarnation of a God who is already germinating in me.

«The angel entered her », in her house: an ordinary day, in any place, an announcement delivered in the intimacy, in the normality of a house.  It does so on a day of celebration, in the time of tears. It is so beautiful to think that God touches you not only in the solemn liturgies of the Cathedrals, or on special days, but above all in common life! 

The first word of the angel is to say, rejoice, be happy.  The first Gospel is good news and precedes any of your answers.  The reason for joy is said with the next word: "full of grace ", filled with the life of God, you are loved tenderly, freely, forever. Here is the name of Mary: "loved forever ". 

The angel addsThe Lord is with youIn our inadequate life, the Lord is with us. In our distracted and overrun life, the Lord is still with us. The angel echoes the ancient word: I have been with you wherever you have gone. Words of a God in love, which no creature can ever tell you, no one can say: I 've been with you, everywhere, always. No one will be with us wherever we go. No one has been with us in all the steps we have taken, which we have lost, which we have found, God alone. And when Jesus leaves his own, the last word will echo the first: I will be with you every dayuntil the end of time, the fulfilment of the Incarnation.

We have reached the last Sunday before Christmas! Aren't you ready? Gifts? The big dinner? God proposes a different logic, I choose the logic of God, a logic based on the essential, on the truth of self, I am fine as I am, weak, perhaps a little suffering, immersed in the banal, it is God who comes to meet me, I just have to let myself be met. He knows me, loves me, waits for me to carry out his love projects with me, to continue his creation. I am his temple, his home where he can become a man, a woman and walk the streets of where you live, being able to caress the beloved, the beloved. Does that seem little to you? A God who asks for the hospitality of my person in order to reach those he loves!

Final Prayer   

Eternal God, as Mary waited for the birth of your Son, so we wait for his coming in glory; bring us through the birth pangs of this present age to see, with her, our great salvation in Jesus Christ our Lord. Holy Father, who have chosen Mary, your humble servant, as the mother of your Son, Saviour of the world, help us to imitate her in accepting your will with love and in serving our brothers with concern.