Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Advent

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Bible passage

In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, ‘Greetings, favoured one! The Lord is with you.’ But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, ‘Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favour with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. He will reign over the house of Jacob for ever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.’
Mary said to the angel, ‘How can this be, since I am a virgin?’ The angel said to her, ‘The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you; therefore the child to be born will be holy; he will be called Son of God. And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. For nothing will be impossible with God.’ Then Mary said, ‘Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.’
Then the angel departed from her.


On the brink of Christmas, we turn to Mary.  We see the uncertainty, the fear, in the eyes of a young woman preparing (if that were possible) for the birth of her child. 
When the angel spoke with her, nine months earlier, she was told not to fear, and was reassured of God’s favour. Her child would be full of holy promise.  Now, as the moment of birth approaches, how could she not fear? 
Those who respond to God’s call, who say ‘let it be’, however tentatively, open themselves to a will, a destiny, that they can’t control. Mary couldn't control the birth of her child. It simply had to happen, one way or another, with all the physical and emotional risks that went with it. How could this not be fearful?   
As we come to the brink of Christmas, whatever fears may be bubbling within us, can we renew our trust that God is bringing something holy to birth, even now, within and through us? Can we gather our courage, remember God’s promise of favour towards us, and echo, however faintly, Mary’s ‘let it be’? 


Heavenly Father, 
who chose the Blessed Virgin Mary 
to be the mother of the promised saviour: 
fill us your servants with your grace, 
that in all things we may embrace your holy will 
and with her rejoice in your salvation; 
through Jesus Christ our Lord.