Homily for Dec. 22, Thursday of the IV week of Advent
Throughout the history of Israel, God chose men and women from among the poor and the humble to lead His people Israel. Often He brought them into the world as children born of parents who were thought to be sterile. God did this in answer to the prayers of those mothers and of His people, and thus showed that it was He who led them by means of people with no special merits of their own. Just to give two examples, the first reading on Monday spoke of the birth of the great warrior Samson, and today’s first reading recounts part of the story of the prophet Samuel and his mother Hannah. Our responsorial psalm today is taken from Samuel’s mother’s hymn of praise and thanksgiving.
In Mary and Jesus, God works in an even more powerful way. Mary was not sterile; she was a virgin. Jesus is not just an instrument and sign of God’s presence and love; He is Emmanuel, “God with us”, love incarnate. Mary recognizes that, in her conceiving Jesus, she is placed at the peak of God’s work in the world. She is the most blessed of all women. Her song of praise, the Magnificat, which we hear in today’s Gospel, echoes the words of Hannah. She puts into words the joy, the wonder, and the praise that should fill all our hearts as we contemplate the great things the Lord has done for us through Mary in Christ.
May we echo these words and thoughts in our hearts and prayers throughout the coming Christmas season, and turn them into actions of service and love for God and neighbor.