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Gratitude for promises kept

"We often are afflicted with this arrogance and conceit in the false belief that we can properly exist without God and become independent of him."

Tomorrow, we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Advent. On this day the fourth and last candle of the Advent Wreath is lighted to usher in the coming of Christmas. On Christmas, we celebrate the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ, the Savior of the World. It is a day of rejoicing for on this day the Word was  made flesh and dwelt amongst us to show to all mankind that we do not live by ourselves alone to chart our own eternal destiny but that there is a loving God who guides us through the Holy Spirit and leads us to his eternal kingdom of happiness and bliss.

The Gospel for this Sunday is taken from the Gospel of Luke which recounts the visit of Mary to St. Elizabeth. Mary is the new Ark of the Covenant. She carries Christ Jesus in her womb just as the Ark of the Covenant of the Old Testament carried the  two tablets of the Ten Commandments. Through Mary, God has made a new covenant with his people, Jews and Gentiles alike, and be close to us in every way, to a point that he sent his only begotten Son to live amongst us and die for our sins.

In the Gospel Elizabeth says to Mary, “Who am I that the Mother of my Lord should come to me?” She tells how the babe in her womb (John the Baptist) leaped in her womb as she became filled with the Holy Spirit. Mary remains three months with her kinswoman before returning to her home.

In the light of today’s Gospel reading, we focus on the Blessed Virgin Mary, the perfect paragon of every Godly virtue.  She is the model of charity by letting the love of God be the decisive factor in everything that she does and decides. She visits her kinsman Elizabeth out of generosity as she knows of her pregnant state although she herself is expecting a child. Imbued with profound humility, Mary is born unsullied by original sin unlike the rest of humanity. Among all the multitude of women, she is singled out to bear in her womb the God-child and wholeheartedly accepted the responsibilities of her mission. She patiently accepts all the pains and sufferings that accompany the role of being the Mother of God, most specially in seeing her son suffer an ignominious death on the cross. Mary obeys God’s will blindly without counting the cost. She radiates joy and peace to everyone she touches in her earthly life. She totally surrenders her whole self to God, without any tint of reservation.   

Now that we are about to receive the Savior, Emmanuel, it also pays to remember the great role of Mary played in the whole scheme of the divine plan. For the salvation of men, she gave birth to God who is like us in all respects but sin. He is a God who wills to share our poverty and to pray and suffer with us; He assumes our guilt. Our minds cannot and will not fully grasp the plans of God, for he thinks and plans unlike men. For as the Scripture says, the foolishness of God is wiser than human wisdom, and the weakness of God is stronger than human strength. Oftentimes, we tend to be arrogant of our little achievements, yet we often forget that it is God, the God of all creation, who bestows upon us te ability to realize even the most insignificant and inconsequential of things.

We often are afflicted with this arrogance and conceit in the false belief that we can properly exist without God and become independent of him. Yet it is precisely this false belief that we destroy and undo the great creation of God, resulting in misery, despair, emptiness, sadness and loneliness, pain, suffering and ultimately death. “Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the Lord watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain,” the Scripture says.

The great God is with us. He has come, not to destroy the sinful world, as He once destroyed Sodom and Gomorrha, but to redeem it from its sins. This redemption is to be accomplished at the cost of great personal sacrifice to Him. And this great plan of salvation is made possible through Mary who unquestionably accepted God’s plan on her and on the whole humanity. As the great televangelist Fulton Sheen said: “She existed in the Divine Mind as an Eternal Thought before there were any mothers. She is the Mother of mothers—she is the world’s first love.” “As the mother knows the needs better than the babe, so the Blessed Mother understands our cries and worries and knows them better than we know ourselves,” Sheen adds. 

This Christmas we not only express our gratitude to Christ, the fullest expression of God’s love for us, but also to Mary who shows us perfect obedience to God’s will and to be a willing instrument to his plans for us. And to the Father, we can only have our hearts gripped with gratitude for keeping His promises to us.

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Topics: Tony La Viña , Gratitude for promises kept
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