December 20, 2010
Monday of the Fourth Week of Advent
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
Introductory Prayer: Lord, I know by faith that these are some of the most important moments of my day. I freely open my mind, heart and will for you to do as you please, because I know you can desire and do only what is good for me. I know that you will give me the grace to do whatever you ask of me and that you will always accompany me. That is enough for me.
Petition: Lord, give me the grace to do your holy will.
1. Pleasing God through the Small, Daily Tasks
The angel Gabriel finds Mary doing nothing extraordinary, but rather doing ordinary tasks like washing clothes, sweeping, getting water, doing the same daily prayer as every devout Jew. But in doing the ordinary she is doing what is pleasing to God. Her example should be our guide. Work can be an ordinary means of holiness. Man, as Pope John Paul II said, “not only transforms nature, adapting it to his own needs, but he also achieves fulfillment as a human being and indeed, in a sense, becomes ‘more a human being’” (Laborem Exercens, no. 9). We please God when we do our duties, fulfill our responsibilities, work to meet our basic needs. While we may not be doing something extraordinary at every moment, we still praise and glorify God when we undertake the ordinary with love. If an angel were to come looking for me, would he find me doing my daily tasks lovingly?
2. “Do Not Be Afraid”
Mary “was greatly troubled and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” When God presents us with his plan, we too might be afraid. We may not fully understand what he has in mind. It can seem that his plan is too great for us. But when God wants something from us, he shows us that it is not beyond our reach. As with Mary at the Incarnation, God will make it happen and will provide all the grace necessary for its completion.
3. “May It Be Done to Me According to Your Word”
When Gabriel clarifies Mary’s mission and illustrates that with God all things are possible, Mary makes an act of faith. Her act of faith is what the Second Vatican Council terms the “obedience of faith.” ‘The obedience of faith’ ‘is to be given to God who reveals, an obedience by which man commits his whole self freely to God, offering the full submission of intellect and will to God who reveals,’ and freely assenting to the truth revealed by Him” (Dei Verbum, 5). God supplied Mary with his grace and did not abandon her; nor will he abandon us. When we do what God wants and cooperate with his plan, he will support us. He will accompany us as we carry out his will and bring his plan to fulfillment. God’s will is our holiness, and when we do his will we help God to make us saints.
Conversation with Mary: Mary, teach me how to do God’s will as you did, so that I can remain in his company. I want to do his will, even though at times I know that it may seem difficult or impossible. Ask your son for the grace of perseverance for me so that I, too, may cooperate with the Lord, whether he is asking something of me that is ordinary or extraordinary.
Resolution: In a difficult situation, I will pray a “Hail Mary,” asking Mary for help in being faithful.
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