Saint Thomas of Canterbury, Bolton

Stay with us, Lord, on our journey

Cycle B

Fourth Sunday of Advent

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Luke 1:26-38

"I am the handmaid of the Lord"

Today, as we pause on the threshold of Christmas, we are invited to reflect on God's plan of salvation 'kept secret for endless ages' and at last revealed in the message to Mary. In the midst of all the pressures and the rush generally experienced during this season it is not easy to find time for reflection, yet without it we risk losing sight of what Christmas is really all about. Mary is our model here, the true contemplative, who 'treasured all these things and pondered them in her heart'.

What had remained “a mystery kept secret” has now been made clear. People were to know of the salvation, love, truth, justice, mercy, and other qualities of God through the Incarnation of his Son. And Mary was called to play her unique part in this grace-filled event. Although at first fearful and uncertain, her faith made her able to reply 'I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me'. In this Mary is not just someone who fulfils a central role in the story; she is also the prototype for every believer, and for the Church, the perfect model whom we are encouraged to imitate.

The 'mystery' of the Annunciation does not relate to Mary alone; it brings an invitation and challenge to every baptised person. If today's busy and in many ways broken world is to discover the love and compassion and joy of God, it is to be through us, through the lives we live and the witness we give. In spite of our own fears and uncertainties, God wills his Son to be born in the warp and woof of our daily living. By her trusting assent to God's word Mary brought Christ into the world. Now, her prayers and example help us to respond to his will in similar faith and love.