Fourth Sunday of Advent - Year B

39C-Richie Mercado.jpg

Richie Mercado, O.S.A.
Saint Rita of Cascia High School
Chicago, Illinois

2 Sm 7: 1-5 8b-12, 14a, 16
Ps 89: 2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
Rom 16: 25-27
Lk 1: 26-28

What is time? Immediately, we understand time as cyclical. After the 59th second, it goes back to zero. After the 59th minute, it goes back to zero. After the 12th hour, it goes back to 1. After winter is spring, then summer, then fall, then back to winter and so on and so forth. With this, we view time as cyclical where there’s no end to it because the cycle keeps on moving on. We exactly know that after Advent is Christmas. Then, we go back to Ordinary time. After a few weeks of Ordinary time, we go to Lent, and then Easter, and then back to Ordinary time again until the next Advent. Now, the danger with this understanding of time is that we already have an idea of what’s coming up. The events in our lives become predictable. We can always say, “I’ll do this next Advent, not this time. I’ll give that up next Lent, not this time.” Every little thing that we do for our neighbors loses its meaning because it is done and understood within the context of time as cyclical.

However, as Christians, we understand time quite differently. We understand time not as cyclical but as linear, which means that we view time from the beginning all the way to the future that God has planned for us. And every step of the way is very important. It is very important because every step of the way is a moment of grace from God. And as we truly believe in our faith, during the first Christmas over 2000 years ago, God entered time (linear) from His eternity. And since that very important step of the way, the world has changed. The world has changed because of God’s grace. The world has changed because God entered time. The world has changed because God became human like us, except sin.

But before God entered into this linear time, somebody said YES. And this YES changed the world. This YES was a moment of God’s grace in the history of humankind. Mary, the mother of Jesus, said YES even though she did not understand everything that was going on when angel Gabriel appeared to her and announced God’s plan for her and the world. Her YES paved the way to a positive change in the world. Her YES brought Christ to all of us.

As we are now getting closer to celebrate the birth of our Savior, we are all invited to reflect deeper on this 4th Sunday of Advent as to how our YES brings a positive change into the world today. In this linear time, in the year 2017, knowing that every step of the way is a moment of grace from God, how would you bring Christ to your neighbors?

It is very interesting that we hear today King David wanting to build a temple, a place where he can bring God to others. However, God had other plans. King David knew what he wanted from God, but he also understood what God wanted from him. So often in our lives, these two fundamental questions in life bring to us a great challenge. We sometimes convince ourselves that what we want from God is what God wants from us. The priorities that Jesus taught us in the Gospels are completely opposed to what the world holds dear-goals such as being first, being rich, being self-made. We think that in order for us to bring a positive change into the world, we have to be first, rich, and self-made. This is what the priorities that the world has set before us.

However, following the example of Mary, in order for us to change the world in a positive way, we don’t have to follow what the world sets before us. We can change the world by being who we are (how God has called you to become in this world). You don’t have to be a doctor when you grow up just because that’s what your parents want you to be. You don’t have to be a teacher just because all of your friends want to be teachers in the future. But let us imitate Mary. She didn’t listen to what the world set before her; rather, she listened to her heart. So, listen to your heart. Maybe, your heart is telling you to be an Augustinian and that’s how you can best change the world in a positive way. Listen to your heart because, like Mary, you have already found favor with God. The angel Gabriel is telling you right now, “Do not be afraid for you have found favor with God.” Why? Because deep inside your heart is where you encounter Christ, the God who came into this linear time from His eternity. You might be searching for Christ in the things that you do, but all the while he’s been there in your heart all this time. That’s a moment of grace right there in your life. Without a doubt, you can change the world for the better, but you have to begin by recognizing the one who changed the world 2000 years ago. And Jesus is in your heart. Listen to your heart! Listen to Jesus in your heart! And once you hear the voice of Jesus in your heart, bring him to others. Every step of the way in this linear time is a moment of grace from God, bring Christ to your neighbors in the same way as Mary did to all of us.