4th Sunday of Advent Year C
December 20, 2015


Today is the last Sunday prior to Christmas, and the fifth day of the novena in preparation for the second greatest feast in the Roman Catholic liturgical calendar.

Like we did last December 8, our thoughts are focused now on the one who made Christmas possible – the woman, who, by her cooperation with God, brought forth to the world the reason for the season – Jesus Christ, God’s Son! Five days before the mystery of the Incarnation takes place, we think about her who was a primary player in the Divine Con-spiracy of goodness, grace, and gift.

Without intending to spoil the message of Christmas, I would like to think of the big day for us Christians as epitomized by the idea of outpouring. Christmas is essentially an outpouring of grace, of blessing, of gift. But like in everything that happens in our earthly life, all gift, all grace, all blessing is always mediated, that is, given through channels or intermediaries.

The sunlight is filtered by the atmosphere. The rainfall, passing through the same atmosphere, does not come to us as a torrent, but in droplets, not in voluminous streams from above. The gifts of nature that we enjoy each day, do not come to us ready-made, but lovingly crafted or prepared by others. Even the fruits we eat have been laboriously cared for, watered and harvested by others. The food that we shall enjoy on Christmas day (and actually enjoying now in the days of Simbang Gabi), have been given to us through the efforts and hard work of other people.

The Savior whom we await did not come crashing through the gates one fine Christmas morning. No … he was born of woman, born of a virgin – Mary, by name.

This is the same Mary we called on last December 8, who, on account of the same outpouring of grace, was born without the stain of sin, prepared aptly by the same God, who chose a worthy dwelling place for her son soon to be born of her.

This is the woman whose participation caused (instrumentally that is, not in the sense of final cause who is God alone), the outpouring of salvation which we now look forward to celebrating in five days!

But a homily never should be a theological treatise, though some theology must get in the picture. A homily is meant to be a breaking down of deep Scriptural and theological teachings and concepts that are more for the doing, not for primarily for the reflecting and speculating.

And here is where Scripture ought to come alive for us. And come alive, it does, in and through the example of a human like us in all things, but elevated by the power of grace from above.

All the readings today talk of joy and hope. For the one who is to come “shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord.”

The Gospel speaks about a joyful meeting between cousins, Mary and Elizabeth. The joy spilled over into praise, for when the heart is filled with joy, it cannot but express itself as praise and thankful utterances: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb!” Yes, even the child joined in the joyful exultation by leaping in her womb. Elizabeth too, received an outpouring from the Spirit, and that outpouring showed best in her utterances.

But a homily never stops at exulting the greatness of Biblical figures. That would be to read Scripture merely as a morality play, a novel, a short story – designed to impress, but not to press us into being responsible ourselves.

And this is where the good news lies … the good news about a woman who was blessed, not just because he was soon to be mother of Jesus, but because she did more … She mothered more than just God’s Son. She mothered a virtue, an attitude, an openness to the Word, and a further and deeper openness to doing and behaving in accordance with that Word. She believed God’s utterance, and she, indeed, was “blessed” for she “believed that what was spoken to [her] by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

What about us? We have listened for God knows how many times to the readings we hear one more time today. But we are not anywhere near being blessed yet, unless of course, we promise today to hear, listen, obey, and do just as Mary did.

And, here’s one more piece of good news! … We are never wanting in grace. And lest we forget, let us say it one more time like we did at the beginning of this Mass:

“Pour forth we beseech you O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to hom the Incarnation of Christ Your Son was made known by the message of an angel, may, by His passion and Cross, be brought to the glory of his resurrections. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, one God, for ever and ever. Amen.