Fourth Sunday of Advent 2020

“May it be done to me according to your word!”

As we approach the great Solemnity of Christmas, today we hear the Gospel of the Annunciation, which speaks of the event exactly nine months before Christmas in which the Archangel Gabriel invites Mary to rejoice and has the dialogue with her that concludes with her fiat, her “let it be so.” Then the power of the Most High overshadows her and this ultimate miracle of the conception of the Lord Jesus occurs. The Second Person of the Most Holy Trinity takes to Himself a human nature:  “and the Word became flesh.”

The first reading describes David’s desire to build a Temple for the Lord. What is the connection between this and the Gospel? The Temple itself, the most magnificent building created for the worship of God, is itself a foreshadowing of the true temple that God Himself created for His Son to dwell in, the womb of the great Mother of God, Mary herself. That’s why she is also known as the Ark of the Covenant, because in her the Divine Presence took flesh, for us! The Incarnation of the Lord, done out of love for us:  “For God so loved the world that He gave His only begotten Son!” Thus begins this gift to us, this gift that will ultimately lead to the Cross and Resurrection, as the King lays down His life for the people He loves and then gloriously rises from the dead! Christmas, like all the major feasts of the Lord Jesus, always contains a sort of snapshot of the fuller reality. For example, even the joyous event of the Birth of the King has a reminder of the Cross in the gift of myrrh that is presented to the Child in the manger, even as Mary is told that a sword will pierce her heart as well.

As we prayerfully consider these mysteries that are the heart of our life with the Lord Jesus, we note that in the first reading, the legitimate desire of King David is shown to us:  he has received so much from the Lord, and now his desire is to repay some of that gift by serving the Lord in his turn. This should be the natural response of gratitude and obviously applies not only to David but to all of us. We have received so much from the Lord Jesus, not only naturally but supernaturally, that we should have great gratitude for all that He has done. That gratitude should translate, as it does in David’s case, with a desire to give back to Him Who has given so much to us!

This desire to serve as a proper response rising from the gratitude in our hearts is the heart of the fourth component of our Discipleship Pathway:  given so much by a so generous King, we are moved to serve even as He has so richly served us. This service can take many forms.

First, of course, we serve our families, the domestic Church that the Lord Jesus has placed as the heart of His Church. But in addition to our families, often we are invited to serve the needs of those around us as well.

Sometimes that service is directed within the Church as we serve to meet the practical needs of building the Kingdom in our midst. This can take many forms:  liturgical service, educational service, pastoral service, etc. Sometimes it is directed outside the Church. This, too, can take many forms;  evangelization and care of the poor are two ways highlighted by both Bp. Boyea for the people of the diocese and Pope Francis, specifically addressing the charismatic renewal.

We have a new, practical vehicle for that service in the Lord’s gift to us of our sister parish in Flint, which has many needs that the generous gifts the Lord Jesus has given to us can help to fulfill. We are able to offer this service because, as the second reading points out, we have been strengthened for this by the Lord Jesus Himself.

Especially during this Holy Season, now is the time to reflect on how the gratitude we owe to the King should result in us serving His Kingdom! Even so, come, Lord Jesus, come! — Fr. Ed Fride