Thoughts on the Readings for the 4th Sunday of Advent (B) 2018

For this Sunday’s readings click on the link or copy and paste it into your browser: http://usccb.org/bible/readings/122417.cfm 
 
On this fourth Sunday of the season of Advent we read the story of the Annunciation.  This story is taken from Luke’s Gospel.  (Luke is the only evangelist who includes the Annunciation story in his Gospel.)   We are told that the Angel Gabriel appeared to the Virgin Mary to announce that she was to “conceive in her womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus.”   
 
The bulk of this Gospel is the conversation between the Angel Gabriel and Mary.   Gabriel announced God’s intention.  Mary responded with the very practical question:  “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?”   The angel Gabriel replied: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”  Gabriel then offered the sign confirming that this is God’s work by telling Mary that her elderly relative, Elizabeth, who was thought to be barren, was six months pregnant:  “For nothing will be impossible with God.”    Mary assented to God’s will with words of complete trust/faith:  “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.  May it be done to me according to your word.” 
 
Our first reading this Sunday is taken from the Second Book of Samuel.  It contains God’s promise to David that “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.”   As Christians, we see this as a prophecy of Christ’s birth.    
 
Our second reading this Sunday is taken from the Letter of St. Paul to the Romans.  It is a prayer of praise to God who has offered salvation to all in Jesus Christ.
 
Questions for Discussion/Reflection: 
 
  1. Fr. John Shea is a theologian and poet.  One of his poem’s is entitled: “A Prayer of Wholehearted Commitment.”   It ends with the words:  So it is to You, that my most resounding “yes” is a maybe, and it is with one eye on the door that I say ‘Behold, Lord, your servant waiteth!’”  Trusting in God isn’t always easy.  What helps you to trust in God as Mary did?
  2. Our First reading reminds us that God doesn’t operate on our timetable or according to our ideas.   Can you remember a time when you realized the truth of this?   
  3. If you wrote a prayer of praise for God what would it contain? 
  4. Bonus Question:  Can you find the stained glass window depicting the Annunciation in the Basilica?  
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