Homily for 4th Sunday of Advent (Year C)
December 19, 2021
Sacred Heart, EGF –Sunday 10:00 AM, 5:00 PM
The fullness of time had come:
The moment that the Father had been preparing us for…
He had been preparing us for centuries, from the moment the apple core hit the bushes.
The angel of the Lord declared unto Mary.
This was the moment,
the moment of Mary’s call,
the time for the revealing of her vocation.
The angel declared and the world held its breath,
held its breath as it awaited her response.
St. Bernard of Clairvaux describes the moment:
The angel awaits an answer; it is time for him to return to God who sent him. We too are waiting, O Lady, for your word of compassion; the sentence of condemnation weighs heavily upon us.
The price of our salvation is offered to you. We shall be set free at once if you consent…
Answer quickly, O Virgin. Reply in haste to the angel, or rather through the angel to the Lord. Answer with a word, receive the Word of God. Speak your own word, conceive the divine Word. Breathe a passing word, embrace the eternal Word.
Why do you delay, why are you afraid? Believe, give praise, and receive. Let humility be bold, let modesty be confident. This is no time for virginal simplicity to forget prudence. In this matter alone, O prudent Virgin, do not fear to be presumptuous. Though modest silence is pleasing, dutiful speech is now more necessary.
Open your heart to faith, O blessed Virgin, your lips to praise, your womb to the Creator. See, the desired of all nations is at your door, knocking to enter. If he should pass by because of your delay, in sorrow you would begin to seek him afresh, the One whom your soul loves.
Arise, hasten, open. Arise in faith, hasten in devotion, open in praise and thanksgiving.
Behold the handmaid of the Lord, she says, be it done to me according to your word.
And the Book of Wisdom tell us that:
While gentle silence enveloped all things,
and night in its swift course was now half gone,
the all-powerful Word leapt from Heaven,
from the royal throne,
into the midst of the land that was doomed.
Brothers and sisters, we enter now into the final week of Advent.
Mary sets out in haste on her journey toward Elizabeth. Her journey of 90 miles over the rugged mountains will take several days. Our spiritual journey to Bethlehem to see the newborn child lying in the manger will take several days.
She travels, carrying valuable treasure, the most valuable treasure, in her womb.
We travel, too.
We travel throughout this week,
carrying valuable treasure,
the most valuable treasure of the Body of Christ from this altar,
in the womb of our hearts.
Mary travels to Elizabeth, to assist her during the final trimester of her pregnancy.
We travel to those we will encounter this week, to assist them by our acts of charity. We travel and we enter the houses of others with the Lord hidden within us.
Elizabeth and in the infant in her womb shout and leap for joy,
because the Lord is in their midst.
At times, we are Mary, bringing the Lord whom we bear within our breast to Elizabeth.
At times, we are Elizabeth, filled with wonder and awe when we realize we have been visited by the Lord.
Elizabeth exclaims to Mary, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”
Brothers and sisters, what about us?
When the Lord speaks to us,
when the Word leaps again from Heaven and speaks into the ears of our hearts…
Do we believe?
Do we give our “yes”?
Do we go in haste?
The whole world awaited Mary’s reply.
The whole world awaits our reply.
You are I were made for great things.
We often think we are too small.
Bethlehem was also too small:
And you Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel…
Everything was at stake when the world awaited Mary’s reply.
A great deal is also at stake when the world awaits our reply.
The grace of the Holy Spirit knows not of slow workings.
Mary went in haste to see Elizabeth. She did not delay.
The rugged mountains [could not stop Mary] from pursuing her purpose.
Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.
These are words to Mary.
They are words also to us – to us who have believed the message of salvation. We are blessed when we believe that what has been spoken to us by the Lord will be fulfilled.
If the Lord speaks it to us, no obstacle can stop us.
There is only one thing that can stop us: our fear.
No other obstacle can stop us.
We just need to be like Mary.
We just need to stay “yes.”
Let it be done unto me according to your word.
Mary believed and said Yes. She was blessed and so were we.
The Holy Spirit acts in us. Believe and say yes.
You will be blessed and so will we.
 Bernard of Clairvaux, “The Whole World Awaits Mary’s Reply”.
 Wisdom 18:14
 St. Ambrose in Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, Volume 3: St. Luke (Volume 3, Number 1, Page 38).
 Theophylact of Ohrid in Catena Aurea: Commentary on the Four Gospels, Collected out of the Works of the Fathers, Volume 3: St. Luke (Volume 3, Number 1, Page 38).