4th Sunday of Advent

Posted on December 22, 2023 View all Gospel Reflection

Fourth Sunday of Advent

 “Jesus is our Savior, why give Mary any attention?  Mary, too, needed a savior. She says that her spirit rejoices in God my Savior. Think about the mystery of Jesus living in Mary. At Christmas, we ponder that it is through Mary we come to Jesus.

“Don’t tell my Pentecostal mom, but I pray the Hail Mary.” The writer says, “I could finger the beads unnoticed. Somehow their touch gave me comfort. Reassurance. I was not on this journey alone. Mary was with me. I carry Mary with me all the time now. She is in my heart, in the air that I breathe. I want to share her with others and tell everyone whom I’ve found. For the first time I understand why people proselytize. I am happy. I have found a way. I want to share it so others can find the way, too.”1

A Catholic said that a Methodist friend has always been puzzled by the emphasis Catholics place upon ritual or rote prayers…. How, she wonders, can it possibly produce an intense and focused spiritual experience? Self-sprung prayers [that you make up on the spot in your own words]…she views as genuine evidence of a willed act to commune with God, relying upon individual creative and expressive abilities.

The Catholic responded that the form of address by Archangel are perfect that no one could outdo. 2.

“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you” in Latin, is:  Ave Maria, gratia plena, Dominus tecum.

“Ave” was used by the Romans as a salutation and greeting, which is translated as “Hail” in English.

The word Ave spelled backwards is Eva. Eva or Eve got tricked by the devil, so Mary talking with the angel when he greeted her with this Ave was the beginning of our redemption.

Archangel Gabriel called her by name “Full of Grace” not “Mary full of Grace,” because that would an adjective. The angel did not use Grace to describe Mary. He simply called her “Full of Grace” as a name.

This is the only time this is used this way in the entire Bible. It is not used this way in Acts of the Apostles where Stephen is described as “Stephen, Full of Grace,” as an adjective. In fact, all Christians can be full of grace as an adjective.  

The Catechism also teaches us that “Prayer cannot be reduced to the spontaneous outpouring of interior impulse. . . . Nor is it enough to know what the Scriptures reveal about prayer: one must also learn how to pray” (2650)

Lastly, the angel said: “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.
Fear of the Lord” means awe or profound respect.

We should “fear” offending God not because of his just punishment but because he is all good and deserving of our love. Those who do not know about the mercy of Jesus find it hard to have the delight of fear of the Lord, which is to have our rival fears eclipsed, consumed, and destroyed.

Fear of the Lord is to be “Overwhelmed by the Creator” and “Overwhelmed by the Father: God overwhelms us with his transcendent splendor and majesty, while the Father overwhelms us with his love and redemption in Christ.3

To be joyful is to be completely absorbed in what one is doing. Often it’s a celebration with large crowds, singing and feasting based on the spirituality of the participants they give cheerfully and willingly of themselves, like Mary.

Have a Mary Christmas.

1.The Christian Century, 138 no 24 Dec 01 2021

2.Randy Boyagoda, Halfway through the Hail Mary, First Things, 128 Dec 2002

3.Michael Reeves. Rejoice and Tremble; Wheaton, IL: Crossway, 2021