December 24, 4th Sunday of Advent, Mary: a Sunday Scriptures blog

We get cheated out of the last week of Advent this year! It begins with Saturday vigil Masses on Dec. 23 and ends after the last Sunday daytime Mass. Pity poor parish staffs as they scramble to prepare in just a few hours for the Christmas vigil Masses! We also get cheated of much focus on Mary, who is always honored on the fourth Sunday of Advent — in all three of our lectionary cycles of readings. Today’s Gospel reading from Luke is the account of the angel Gabriel’s announcement to Mary about God’s plan for her and us. Mary is being given a call, which seems impossible to her. But the angel says to Mary, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.” Sound familiar? The Holy Spirit came upon Jesus as he was baptized in the Jordan, after which he began his public ministry. And the Holy Spirit came upon the disciples and apostles in the upper room, after which they began to preach. I think about Vatican II, almost 60 years ago, which lifted up the vocation of non-ordained people (“the laity”). It pointed out that the sacrament of baptism is the foundation for all vocations, including the special vocations such as ordination or marriage. We all begin as followers or disciples of the Lord. Lay disciples are the foundation of the Church. It is they who spread the good news of Jesus in the world, and who form future disciples of Jesus in their families. I also notice those words of the Angel: “the power of the most High… .” When our vocations seem difficult, as will happen from time to time, we need to believe in and call on that power. It accompanies us just like that “power of the most High” helped Mary in her special role as Jesus’ mom. It accompanied Jesus as he united himself with his Father’s will, even unto death on the cross. And it accompanies the human family until the end of time. We welcome that power into the dark places in our world and our lives, as we welcome into our hearts the proclamation of the Angels on Christmas: Peace on Earth and good will to all!

— Blog entry by Sister Mary Garascia

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