All That Glittered … But So What?

Fourth Sunday of Advent

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16

When King David was settled in his palace, and the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side, he said to Nathan the prophet, "Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!" Nathan answered the king, "Go, do whatever you have in mind, for the LORD is with you." But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said: "Go, tell my servant David, 'Thus says the LORD: Should you build me a house to dwell in?' "It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth. I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance. Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old, since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever."

Rome 16:25-27

Brothers and sisters: To him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Luke 1:26-38

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.

Once I heard a story and this is my version of it …

In the long ago time, an individual died and went to Heaven. She, of course, was promptly and courteously greeted by St. Peter at the gate – a plain old wooden door with squeaky hinges. An entrance, she thought, didn’t look anything glamorous or extraordinary that was fitted for “Heaven”. She began to wonder if she was at the “right” place. She was dying to ask St. Peter where they were going but thought better to keep her mouth shut. As they’re walking down a lovely path, she couldn’t help but steal glances at St. Peter whose smile never left his face. Alas, she couldn’t hold it in anymore and started babbling about the door, where they might be going, and what she’d done or not done with her life. St. Peter just kept quiet. Finally, she confessed that she felt God had not given her much to work with in the first place, therefore, she wasn’t able to accomplish much in life. St. Peter just kept smiling. After walking for what felt like a lifetime, St. Peter led her down a narrow path, opened a door, and declared that they’d arrived, “Voilà!” Her eyes were blinded by the light coming from the heart of the room filled with glittering boxes: large ones, small ones, round ones, triangular ones, square ones, animal-shaped ones and boxes decorated with glorious ribbons beyond any human imagination. While feeling overwhelmed by the beauty and novelty in front of her, she experienced a “déjà vu” moment. She felt like she’d seen this before. As she turned toward St. Peter, he was already nodding his head at her, “These were all the gifts given to you in your lifetime, but you never opened them!”

In this week’s first reading, God lovingly proclaims his promise to David the gift of all gifts, a king to whom God “will be a father”, and “shall come forth from [David’s] body” to establish God’s kingdom (2 Sam 7:12-14). Indeed, God’s faithfulness endures forever. His promise is fulfilled when He sends Angel Gabriel to Mary, a lowly virgin who would never imagine herself to become the Mother of God. Mary’s reaction is priceless; she is “perplexed” yet willing to ponder God’s words. How often do we have similar feelings of apprehension? If we pay enough attention and take courage, we will notice the abundance of gifts freely given to us by our loving Father. The question is not how much we have been given, but do we dare to venture down the narrow path, enter the room and open these gift boxes? Mary is “perplexed” but Gabriel reassures her, “Do not be afraid” and that she has found “favour with God” (Lk 1:30). When Mary chooses to open this special gift and says “yes”, her life is changed in an instant. Marianne Williamson writes,

Our deepest fear is not that we are inadequate, our deepest fear is that we are powerful beyond measure. It is our light, not our darkness, that most frightens us. We ask ourselves, who am I to be brilliant, gorgeous, talented, fabulous? Actually, who are you not to be? You are a child of God. Your playing small doesn’t serve the world. […] And as we let our own light shine, we unconsciously give other people permission to do the same. As we are liberated from our own fear, our presence automatically liberates others.

“For nothing will be impossible for God”, Luke declares (Lk 1: 37). Through Mary’s courage and trust, and perhaps sense of adventure, we are liberated from our own fear and be free to open those glittering boxes. Mary’s “fiat” brings the world a Suffering Servant, a King, and a Saviour. What would our “fiat” bring to the world? When we shed off our fear and timidity, we let God’s light shine through us and encourage others to do the same.

As we conclude our preparation during Advent and enter into the Christmas season, let us remember God’s faithfulness and proclaim His steadfast love, “You are my Father, my God, and the rock of my salvation!” (Ps 89:26)

Posted: December 24, 2017

Susanna Mak

Susanna深信,信仰需要在日常生活中顯露出來,尤其是當與別人相處時,需要分擔對方所面對的困境、抉擇和挑戰。她有着很多不同的身份:女兒、姐姐、朋友、姨姨、妻子、老師、校牧、終身學習者和偶爾替《生命恩泉》寫作的作者。在每一個身份當中, 她努力為天主的愛和希望作見証。 她在多倫多擔任高中教師近二十年,擁有英語、學生讀寫能力、青年領袖活動、校牧組等經驗。 她是多倫多大學商業和英語學士,教育學士,亞省Athabasca大學綜合研究碩士,以及擁有多倫多大學Regis學院神學研究碩士證書。她對於成為《生命恩泉》寫作團隊的一份子, 深感榮幸。 Susanna has a deep conviction that faith needs to be manifested in daily life, particularly, in one’s encounters with others as well as amidst dilemmas, choices, and challenges. She strives to be a living sign of God’s love and hope as a daughter, sister, friend, aunt, wife, teacher, chaplain, life-long learner, and occasional writer for FLL. She has been a high school teacher in Toronto for almost 20 years, with experiences in English and literacy, youth leadership initiatives, the Chaplaincy Team, to mention a few. She has a B. Comm, B.A. in English, and a B. Education from University of Toronto, an M.A. in Integrated Studies from Athabasca University, and a Graduate Certificate of Theological Studies from Regis College, U of T. She is humbled by the opportunity to be part of the FLL Writing Team.

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