December 21, 2014 - Fourth Sunday of Advent
Have you ever looked at yourself in one of those funhouse mirrors? Maybe the Carnival came to your area and you found yourself fascinated with the distorted images in the glass. Stocky and short, elongated and lanky, or even curved and blurry, it all changes the reality of what is the proper perspective.
I think the readings this Sunday are all about perspective. In our first reading, it is amazing that King David wants to build a lasting dwelling place for God, but in the end, it is God who builds a lasting legacy through David. This is so important for us to remember; it is God who works in us and through us, and remembering the source from which lasting things come is necessary.
We find this reminder in the responsorial Psalm: “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” As the psalmist remembers the promises and covenants of God, he is left with the perspective of gratitude.
In the second reading from Romans, we read about God who strengthens through the gospel, and the account of this revelation through the prophetic writings emphasizes that he is worthy of all glory! The importance of being grateful is the perspective necessary for those journeying in this world. It is God who strengthens us.
In our Gospel, we have the story of Gabriel being sent from God to a virgin named Mary. It is here we are told the beautiful exchange that will change the world: “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” Our reading concludes with the beautiful response of gratitude, the perspective of a thankful heart: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”
The beginning of the Liturgy of the Word speaks of a dwelling place for God, and the reality is that God is greater than any building, and all goodness comes from him. It is the Lord who builds a legacy. The Gospel concludes with the reality of God dwelling in a young woman, who will have the greatest legacy of all. This feminine heart given in gratitude to the fulfillment of the prophetic and typological fulfillment is the legacy we commemorate in Advent, and it should instill in all of us a desire to be people of gratitude.
Amidst all of the emphasis on gifts and deals this Christmas season, let's take a step back and look at the story once again from a fresh perspective. God chooses to do a great work in our life, and he comes to us to reside among and within our hearts. If we wish to really be a thankful recipient of the Gospel, it isn’t about us building or making something for God. We can say that it isn’t even about us doing something for God; rather, I think it is about us being and growing in our receptivity of God. We must be Marian. Letting Mary lead us in gratitude, giving the Holy Spirit a resounding “yes” is truly a perspective worth having.
Chris Padgett is a speaker, author, musician and lay evangelist. He is married to his high school sweetheart and has nine children. Chris'