December 24, 2023
Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year B)
Readings for Today
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” Luke 1:26–28
What an amazing experience this would have been. This humble servant of God, a young girl, was visited by the Archangel Gabriel and greeted with the salutation, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” Try to imagine her experience. She was humble beyond comprehension, filled with every heavenly virtue, loved God with all her heart and suddenly came face-to-face with this glorious and most magnificent Archangel. And this heavenly visitor showered the deepest of praises upon this lowly servant of the Lord.
At first, in her humility, Mary simply pondered this greeting. She pondered it in her heart through prayer and faith. Then the Archangel spoke further: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Though Mary inquired further about how this could be, she quickly gave her consent: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” And it was these words of this young woman that continuously echoed in her heart throughout her life.
Mother Mary was great for many reasons. She was the Immaculate Conception—the one singularly conceived without sin in the womb of her own mother. She was the one chosen by the Father to bring forth the Savior of the World as her only begotten Son. But her greatness is especially found in her ongoing submission to the will of God. “May it be done to me according to your word.” This is what she said over and over throughout her life. This is her perfect “fiat” to her God. All she knew was surrender and submission to all that God asked of her. And it is this, more than anything else, that made her the worthy Mother of God.
Though none of us were immaculately conceived within our mother’s wombs and none of us have remained without sin throughout our lives, we must all strive to be inspired by this holy woman. We must all ponder her deep humility and her willing acceptance of God’s will in her life. And we must all strive to imitate her fiat and her perfect virtue.
Imitation of our Blessed Mother is accomplished by first coming to know her, understand her and love who she is. Gazing upon her interior beauty and holiness presents us with the vision of the perfection to which we are all called. As we prayerfully gaze upon her heart and come to understand her virtues more clearly, we will be inspired to open our own hearts so as to imitate her by the grace of God. This prayerful exercise is one of the best and quickest ways to obtain the heights of holiness to which God has called us.
Reflect, today, upon this holy daughter of the Most High. She is not one we can “figure out.” Instead, she is one whom we can come to know through prayer and through God’s inspiration. Ponder her prayerfully. Be open to her inspiration. And allow the Holy Spirit to also overshadow you so that you will more closely be able to imitate her in her holy virtues.
My dearest Mother, you lived a life of perfect virtue and holiness. You continuously pondered the mysteries of God in your heart and always surrendered to the will of God with perfection. Please inspire me so that I may not only learn from you but also be able to share in the overshadowing of the Holy Spirit given to you. Mother Mary, pray for us. Jesus, I trust in You.
Saint Andrew Christmas Novena
Traditionally prayed 15 times a day from November 30 through Christmas Eve.