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A4B – 24 Dec 2017

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The Gospel from Luke 1:26-38 presents the familiar scene of the Angel Gabriel being sent by God to announce to Mary that she would become a mother to the Son of God. This is one of the passages that I spent many hours pondering during my recent thirty-day Ignatian retreat, and the first thing that really struck me is the opening line. Luke takes us from the universal and the general and slowly reveals more and more details about the circumstances and locations and people until we finally zero in on the person of this virgin Mary. I also developed a system of highlighting the scriptures, using different colours and symbols to highlight the words that signify location, the words spoken by God or an Angel, other key characters, as well as the different responses of people, ranging from positive, through neutral to negative and even sinful and demonic responses. This passage features the Angel acting as a direct instrument of God, and Mary, responding as best as she can. We will see the dialogue is almost entirely that of Gabriel, with only two responses recorded of Mary – yet both continue to resonate very strongly with those who follow the way of Jesus.

Despite her confusion, fear and doubtless anxiety, Mary becomes for us the perfect model of Advent and thus of Christmas. She questions the basic possibility of a virgin conceiving, yet her final answer calls every Christian to a similar response of trust and openness.


2 Sam 7; Rom 16; Luke 1:26-38 (You will conceive and bear a son)

The Angel and the Young Girl

In the Gospel today, the angel Gabriel announces the birth of a child following the pattern established in the Hebrew Scriptures. The announcement spirals down and through time from the general to the specific: from God to the region of Galilee to a town called Nazareth to a virgin who is betrothed to a man named Joseph – and finally to Mary.

According to the customs of the time, the marriage would have been arranged by her father. Mary would live at home for a year, then the groom would come to take her to his home and the wedding celebrations would last a week. But legally the marriage was already sealed after the engagement. For example, if Joseph had died before the wedding, Mary would have been treated as a widow.

The birth of this child would not only be extraordinary – but he would be the Son of the Most High God. Although Mary had not had sexual relations with any man, this child would be born by the power of God.

These scenes remind us that God works in the lives of ordinary people like Zechariah and Mary. Gabriel was not sent to the home of a queen or princess, but to the insignificant home of a girl betrothed to a labourer. Her significance lies in her answer: “Let it be done unto me, according to your word.” Let our significance be the same.

+ Jesus, as we ponder your promises, help us to delight in your word and respond to your invitations with the same yes as Mary.


Watching and waiting,
wondering just why
I’m so restless and sleepless, waking in the night.
What was promised soon will be here.
I am yearning for him.
There’s a stirring deep inside me
as I’m waiting, waiting for the child.

 

Longing and lonely, humming lullabies,
With arms aching and empty,
heart is open wide.
Oh to see him and to touch him
and to hold him to me;
There’s a stirring deep inside me
as I’m waiting, waiting for the child.

 

Searching and sighing,
Waiting for the dawn of a new day of promise, Emmanuel come forth!
Soon he’ll be here right before me
I am ready for him,
There’s a stirring deep inside me
as I’m waiting, waiting for the child.

“Waiting for the child” – Michael Mangan


Homily Song Reflection: Michael Mangan - Waiting for the Child
Communion Song Reflection: Elevation Worship - There is a Cloud


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This is the ministry of Fr Richard Healey, pastor of St Paul’s Catholic Parish, based in Albion Park, a southern suburb of the city of Wollongong.
Fr Rick is also Director of Vocations and Chaplain to Catholic Youth Ministry in the Diocese of Wollongong, NSW, Australia.
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