Daily Gospel Meditation & Discussion - Sunday 21December 2008 - DESIRING ABSOLUTE CERTAINTY - THE JOURNEY OF FAITH


Daily Prayer and Liturgy
for Today

O Antiphon
**for **

December 20
O Key of David, and Sceptre of the house of Israel; Who openest, and no man shutteth, Who shuttest, and no man openeth: come and lead the captive from the prison house, and him that sitteth in darkness and the shadow of death. .

Advent, Part II

[LEFT]From today (17 Dec) the prayers and readings take on a different nature. [/LEFT]

[LEFT]In the first half of Advent we count forwards: first week, second week, and so on, paying attention to Advent Sunday, the day when Advent started.

Now in the second half of Advent, and Advent Sunday is forgotten: it is Christmas Day that matters. Today (17th December) is the eighth day before Christmas, tomorrow is the seventh day, and so on. The prayers follow this countdown, and the final readings from Isaiah build up to their climax.




[LEFT]I would like some kind of God-o-gram reassuring me that I am doing God’s Will by being a Jesuit priest in Omaha, at Creighton University and the this-and-that’s of my life are, well what is best, whatever that means. There are little “angel-moments”; I want bing-bang biggos though. The whole problem for me and us and was even for Mary, is that we want certainty, “Gabriel-moments” and more than once. We want map-quest clarity and GPS guidance and then call that journey, FAITH. David wanted to build a house for God. God wanted to build a house among us and did so by entering the house of Mary, taking up residence in the house of her womb, and now pitches His Tent among us as we walk the road of watching. [/LEFT]



  • In the sixth month: do my eyes see the angels whom God sends to visit me?
  • Do not be afraid: do our worries arise from our fears and anxieties or do they come from our perception of some mystery hanging over us and involving us personally?
  • Nothing is impossible to God: Generating is the work of God; accepting is the task of humanity. Do I make possible in my life the concept of a life that comes from the Spirit of God?

b) A key to the reading:

v. 26-27. In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph of the House of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary.
In the sixth month: This is a precise moment for those who have read the previous page of the Gospel, the meeting of the angel Gabriel with Zachary in the temple. But for Mary, unbeknownst to her, this sixth month is her “today”. As it was for her so it is for us, there is a unique today, the time of invitation to enter into the project planned for us. But this today is not an isolated time, it is connected to the times of others, each unique and unrepeatable, a today to be set alongside the other todays until such time as the Word of God is fulfilled. The way of grace is very linear. The subject is God. The term of reference: a virgin. The intermediary: the angel Gabriel. Everything is named: the city is called Nazareth; the virgin: Mary; the man to whom she is betrothed: Joseph. Everything has a precise historical setting. The sixth month is that of Elisabeth’s pregnancy. The virgin is the betrothed bride. Joseph is of the House of David. God does not come haphazardly, he comes within the parameters already in existence, those human, drawn by people who have names.
v. 28. He went in and said to her, ‘Rejoice, you who enjoy God’s favour! The Lord is with you’.
The words of the Gospel, ‘He went in’, may be understood in two ways: he went into her house or he went into to her being. So, did Mary see the angel or not? She saw him and heard him. This is true since all that was said will be accomplished. With which eyes did she see him? The physical eyes or the spiritual ones? The mystery of a person’s encounter with God cannot be explained. It happens and that’s all. It is an encounter that leaves a sign, and herein lies the greatness of the event. She who is full of grace has only the eyes of the spirit, thus for her there is only one way of seeing, spiritually, that transparent look of the pure heart that can look upon God and not die.
v. 29. She was deeply disturbed by these words and asked herself what this greeting could mean.
Mary being disturbed is quite legitimate. The way she sees herself, even though she is full of grace, does not allow her to distance herself from others, and so she is not aware of being full of grace, for her it is natural to be what she is, faithful to doing good always and everywhere, faithful to that interior attraction that raises her on high.

cont…next Post


v. 30. The angel said to her: “Mary, do not be afraid; you have won God’s favour.
Mary’s fear is the amazement of all little ones who are surprised at being the object of attention from someone important. And if this someone is God, how great then is that fear? So great that one feels one’s utter smallness and that one has everything from the free gift of love.
v. 31. You are to conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus.
The divine plan is revealed: to conceive and bring to light and to name him. The Saviour is already there, in the words of the angel. How wonderful! Centuries and centuries of waiting are fulfilled in these two syllables: Jesus.
v. 32-33. He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High. The Lord god will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.
When the Lord approaches a person to call that person to take participate in his thoughts of redemption, he does so completely. What remains still obscure is the manner of the human cooperation, because the person remains free to concretise the fulfilment of God’s thought. The point of departure is: an “unforeseen” son. The destination is: the Son of the Most High, who will sit on the throne of David and will reign forever. The means for accomplishing this is your person. Now it is up to you to become the protagonist.
v. 34. Mary said to the angel, ‘But how can this come about, since I have no knowledge of man?’
Mary asks of the angel the how of the fulfilment of the will of God. She does not doubt God, she knows that the Word pronounced by God is always possible. The how is what concerns her, what she is being called to be. She is certain that her desire and intention of not “knowing man” will continue, because God does not cancel the plans of his children, drawn up by their most authentic desires. She knows that her plan will fit into the plan just heard. But she does not know how it will happen. And so she simply asks to do exactly what has been asked of her.
v. 35. The angel answered, ‘The Holy Spirit will come down upon you, and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God’.
The angel explains. Mary will simply have to accept, because it will be the Spirit who will descend in her, it will be the Most High who will overshadow her, and the Holy one will be born.
vv. 36-37. And I tell you this too: your cousin Elizabeth also, in her old age, has conceived a son, and she whom people called barren is now in her sixth month, for nothing is impossible to God.
The experience of Elizabeth told by the angel to Mary is nothing more than an occasion of connecting with history. Mary must have already known of Elizabeth, because both were preparing the way for the fulfilment of promise made to Israel: John the voice, Jesus the spouse. It is the same project.
v. 38. Mary said, ‘You see before you the Lord’s servant, let it happen to me as you have said.’ And the angel left her.
Mary’s reply is essential: Here I am. Her concentration on the Word pronounced to her is so great that she can only feel that she is a “servant”, a useful instrument in the concrete realisation of the will of the Father. Let it happen to me… this is nothing like a passive yes, it is a yes aware of the greatness of her involvement, a yes so deep that it brings forth the face of God in human features.

c) Reflection:

Ecce ancilla Domini; fiat mihi secundum verbum tuum! Behold… This word is essential and full of life. No words are better suited to humankind than this being present, awake, holding one’s breath so as not to lose anything of what the mystery is sharing of Himself. Let it happen… God’s choice is worthy of acceptance, but requires the deep silence of one’s whole being, let it happen to me… Mary knows that she is not the protagonist, but the servant of the divine will; she belongs to the group of servants that Jesus will call friends: a servant does not know what his master does. But friends do know. Whatsoever I have heard from my Father I have revealed to you. The shadow of the Spirit that covers the tent of the presence on such a beautiful creature for her availability, will whisper the mysterious secrets of the Eternal. And the times that go on tracing new ways of grace will come to their peak when the Son of God will see the light of an infinitely small space for his power, the space of limitation and contingency. Mary, first cradle of the ineffable Word, first embrace of the coming light, has no other treasure than her humility; a hollow that receives the fullness, smallness that is called infinite, limited love that demands the embrace of the infinite.


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.