Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12,14,16; Psalm 89:2-5,27,29; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38)
Advent: A Time to Say Yes to God as Mary Did
“Hail, favored one!” (Luke 1:28)
Face-to-face with the mighty angel Gabriel, Mary was “greatly troubled” (Luke 1:29). Gabriel announced God’s plan for her to conceive through the Holy Spirit and bear a son who would inherit the throne of David and rule forever. And Mary, despite not having all the answers, was able to say: “May it be done to me according to your word” (1:38).
The words are so simple, so faith-filled, that we might miss out on what was behind them. By saying “yes” to the angel, Mary also said “no” to many things. She closed the door on an alternative life that had its own attractions: a life of quiet contemplation, out of the limelight, surrounded only by friends and family; a life of simple joys and everyday challenges. And yet with just a few words, she put aside all her dreams to embrace God’s dreams instead.
We can read this passage and marvel at Mary’s faith—and lament our lack of faith in comparison. But it’s important to see that when he greeted her, Gabriel called Mary full of grace, not full of faith. Mary’s “yes” to God was the result of the grace God had given her, not the result of her own willpower and forceful personality.
This is a key point for all of us. For in the final analysis, faith is not something we drum up on our own. It’s a gift given to us by a gracious, generous God. It’s a grace that he pours into us, a potent seed that is waiting to be plunged into the soil of our hearts. We may think we have weak faith, but the truth is God has given us all the faith we will ever need. We just have to learn how to yield to this great gift.
So what do you think? Can you say “yes” to God today? Yes, you can. God’s gift of grace guarantees it!
“Father, thank you for the gift of faith. Knowing you is the greatest joy of my life.”
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, God gives David an extraordinary promise through the prophet Nathan: he will establish his house and his family forever! Who of us wouldn’t want that promise for ourselves? And yet each of us has an opportunity to affect our families for eternity. What might you do this Advent and Christmas season to bring members of your family to a deeper faith in Christ?
- In what ways were the prophetic words by Nathan to David partially fulfilled in Solomon and completely fulfilled in Jesus?
- The responsorial psalm contains prophetic words as well. How do these words, and Nathan’s prophetic words in the first reading, fulfill the words of the angel Gabriel to Mary in the Gospel reading?
- The responsorial psalm also speaks of the Lord’s goodness, promises, faithfulness, and kindness. What steps can you take in your times of prayer to focus more on praising God for these attributes, rather than just asking for things?
- The entire second reading is just one long sentence. It is simply a prayer of praise to God. It acknowledges God for strengthening us according to the “gospel,” the good news. What are some; concrete examples of how you have been strengthened by the Gospel message?
- The Gospel reading is so familiar to us we may be inclined to pass over it too quickly. But when we look closely we see that the angel actually did not give Mary very many details about what her life would be like. And yet she accepted without insisting on knowing its impact on her. When God asks something of you, do you focus on how it will impact you or on God’s will and call for your life? Can you give an example?
- In the meditation, we hear these words, “For in the final analysis, faith is not something we drum up on our own. It’s a gift given to us by a gracious, generous God. It’s a grace that he pours into us, a potent seed that is waiting to be plunged into the soil of our hearts. We may think we have weak faith, but the truth is God has given us all the faith we will ever need. We just have to learn how to yield to this great gift.” As you approach Christmas, what are some steps you can take to “yield to this great gift”? What steps can you take to share your faith with others?