Homily for Dec. 20, Monday of the IV Week of Advent
“O Key of David, opening the gates of God’s eternal Kingdom: come and free the prisoners of darkness.” This “alleluia” verse that preceded today’s Gospel is one of the seven so-called “O Antiphons”, that have been a part of the Church’s Advent liturgy since at least the 5th century, each one invoking the Messiah under a different title.
It describes Jesus as the “Key of David” that frees us from the chains of sin and opens the gates to heaven, but today’s Gospel adds an important fact: that key was held by Mary. What if Mary had let her fear and perplexity turn into distrust, and rejected God’s plan? She was the one God had chosen and prepared to be His Mother. God would have found another solution, but we can only imagine the consequences of a rejection at that key moment of salvation history. Perhaps God would have waited for centuries or even millennia before giving humanity another chance. Fortunately, Mary responds with trust and self-giving: “May it be done to me according to your word.”
But this invites us to reflect: we all have a role in God’s plan. Each of us, as a member of the Body of Christ and a temple of the Holy Spirit, is in some way holding the key to the salvation of other people whom we influence by our words and our deeds, our prayers and our spiritual sacrifices offered to God. We don’t usually have angels appearing to us to tell us exactly what is expected of us, but God does send us smaller signs in the form of spiritual insights and convenient coincidences that give us a chance to make a difference in people’s lives.
Christmas is just a few days away. Let us ask Mary, Mother of Jesus and our Mother, to help us to appreciate the treasure of God’s love and presence that we have received, to see when and how we can help bring Christ to others this Christmas, and to respond with humble trust, “Behold, I am the servant of the Lord.”