• Rev. Lawrence E. Polansky

4th Sunday of Advent (B)

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.”

Entrance Antiphon: Is 45:8—“Drop down dew from above, you heavens, and let the clouds rain down the Just One; let the earth be opened and bring forth a Savior.”

First Reading: 2 Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16 — “The kingdom of David shall endure forever before the Lord."

Responsorial Psalm: Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29 — “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.”

Second Reading: Rom 16:25-27 — “The mystery kept secret for long ages has now been manifested.”

Alleluia: Lk 1:38 — Alleluia, alleluia. ”Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your Word.” Alleluia, alleluia.

Gospel: Lk 1:26-38 — “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.”

Communion Antiphon: Is 7:14 — “Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son; and His name will be called Emmanuel.”

In the Scripture readings for each Sunday this Advent, God has granted us a coupon for a particular item. On the First Sunday of Advent that coupon was for faithfulness, as Jesus called us to be watchful and alert. The following week God gave us a coupon for justice, as both Peter and John the Baptist stressed its importance. And last week, on Gaudete Sunday, God offered us a coupon for joy in Saint Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians.

Advent is almost over, yet today God provides one more coupon. It is a coupon that God has given to every generation of believers, including our own. In fact, it is a coupon for something that makes people believers and keeps them believers. King David and the ancient Israelites received this coupon from God, as did Saint Paul and the early Christians. Even, and most especially, the Blessed Virgin Mary was given this coupon. This Sunday’s coupon is for trust in God.

The Blessed Virgin Mary, the lowly handmaid of the Lord, awaited the coming of the Messiah with trust. She above all others received the justice, the faithfulness, and joy that are God’s gifts to God’s Advent people. It was her trust in God that enabled God’s saving plan to unfold through the birth of her Son, the Son of the Most High. It was her trust in God that revealed her to be full of grace and favor. It was her trust in God that filled her womb and our world with the Son of God.

Mary leads all generations in singing the goodness of the Lord that we find in Christ Jesus. He came forth from humble origins to proclaim the reign of God in this world. He trusted in God His almighty Father completely, and thus He stood firm in the face of all that opposed the reign of God, including sin and death. By such trust, throughout His life and even unto death Jesus established the new covenant of reconciliation in His Body and Blood. That covenant is the everlasting foundation of our trust in God after the pattern of Jesus’ own. That covenant is the enduring peace by which we remain in God’s love.

Such trust in God is also found in the psalmist, who proclaims the infallibility of God’s goodness, God’s promises, and God’s covenant. “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.” We need not doubt these qualities of God, for they are perfect and last forever. God is not good one day and then bad another. God does not promise something and then forget to follow through. God doesn't take a day off from keeping the covenant that He has established with His people.

As we prepare to celebrate the birth of Jesus, God offers us a final coupon for Advent – a coupon for trust in God. As we accept and redeem this coupon, we share in Mary’s obedience of faith and the never-ending song of the psalmist. And may we echo Saint Paul’s shout of glory to the only wise God who strengthens us in faith.

During this Advent season, God has offered us four coupons for Christmas – coupons for faithfulness, justice, joy, and trust in God. They are all signs for the goodness of the Lord, the goodness that we will celebrate at Christmas, the goodness of which we will sing forever – on earth and in heaven. God’s Advent coupons give us something of God’s salvation: faithfulness in the Lord’s service, a right relationship with God, a share in God’s joy, and a firm trust in God. But our salvation really lies not in saving these coupons for ourselves but in sharing with others the gifts that these coupons bring. There are only four more “sharing” days until Christmas. Why not use God’s coupons for yourselves and others? If you do, this Christmas might be the best one yet.

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