Mission Society of the Philippines

Homilies

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT: A GREATER SENSE OF FREEDOM

Lk 1:26-38

THE STORY OF the annunciation of angel Gabriel to Mary reminds us of a God who initiates an encounter with us, which, often, we take for granted or never mind at all, unless we have the awareness  of the work of the Holy Spirit in our lives.  During this advent season, we prepare our hearts for that meeting which, I believe, will lead us to a greater sense of freedom.  This is the kind of freedom that Mary pronounced: “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.”  This is the freedom that sets our hearts and our minds to do the will of God in our lives.  This also moves us to bring the “good news” to our brothers and sisters by our concrete acts of charity.

Mary, undoubtedly, has a special role in bringing this good news to humanity by allowing God to use her as an instrument to fulfill the Father’s saving plan by sending his only-begotten Son.  This is the reason why we give her reverence and extraordinary affection.  Through her, God became incarnate and indeed so close to us.  This personal encounter with God, who desired to become intimate with us, is our sure hope that, like Mary, we move to a greater freedom to do the will of the Father.  This story of annunciation helps us to see how this movement happened in the life of Mary.  Let us pick up few important scenes.

First, Mary is truly convinced of the presence of God. She easily recognizes the messenger who has brought glad tidings to her.  More than just being aware of the messenger, she is able to reflect the message that nonetheless disturbed her.  The assurance not to be afraid, however, has a deep impact in her heart.  She is called to be still and to listen to what the angel has to say to her.  What is this for us, and what does it speak to Filipinos who claim to be the predominantly Christian country in Asia?  Foremost, do we really have a growing awareness of the presence of God in our midst that Christianity has brought us? Are we indeed convinced of the powerful influence of God in our lives?  Or are we holding on to our little gods of wealth, fame and honor?  Maybe, it is time to speak to our brothers and sisters now of the true face of God!  It is only then that we can begin to listen to what he will say to us, to be still and not to be afraid because he has assured us!

Second, Mary is deeply in touch with her humanity, with her own self before God.  She knows who she is, and the limits of her person. “How can this be since I have no relation with a man?”  This is the question she posed to the messenger.  This invites us to look at ourselves who we are before God, where we are now in our journey and how far have we been in our relationship with God, if there’s a relationship at all.  No wonder, we continue to escape to face our identity because we are confronted with the painful reality of who we are.  We tend to pursue our power to control and create an identity of being little gods.  But how can we allow God to work in us, to heal our broken and wounded humanity if we are not ready to accept and embrace it.  Our tendency to hold on to our caprices, that give us sensual pleasure, overpowers us and enslaves us.  Greater freedom therefore begins with the authentic and truthful acceptance of who we are, and how can we allow God to do his mission in us!

Third, after she listened to what angel Gabriel told her, Mary reflected on what he said, and in humility acknowledged her helplessness but open and ready enough to allow God to work in her, accepted the mission God has entrusted to her.  What we see in Mary is a process, a movement towards greater freedom.  She does not just accept out of nothing what the Father asked her to do.  It was a fruit of her relationship with God.  It was also born out of her recognition of her incapacities and limits as a human person that God was able to accomplish his plan.  “I am the handmaid of the Lord, let it be done to me according to your word.”  Filled with awe and wonder, the angel left her.

The freedom to do the Father’s will in our lives brings us to a deeper appreciation of the loving presence of God in our midst.  This love surely will not be contained in itself but will overflow to others.  This is the dynamics of God’s love that radiates in creation and in the mystery of incarnation.  We hope that we will be filled with awe and wonder that move us to do the mission entrusted to us!  

                             [Fr REGIE LAVILLA MSP
                                   MSP Seminary, Tagaytay City]


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