Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent and few days from now we celebrate the anniversary of the birth of Christ, the Nativity. The liturgy invites us to bow in reverence to that great event, worshipping God who was made flesh to bring us to glory. Yes, today's liturgy is all about God with us, the Emmanuel and this takes us to the moment of the celebration of God’s presence within the human family.
Nothing can be said about this more than the fact that the Emmanuel of Advent-Christmas, the God who is with us, witnesses our social life from within the community, so that God is not far away but is actually among us as we become part of each others lives. In all of these, Mary remains the center of attraction. We all get deeply captivated by what she was subjected to go through in order for God to achieve this and her courage to respond positively and with deep faith and trust in the same God that has designed everything for her.
Consider again the greatness of Mary as presented in today's gospel reading. Her pregnancy exposed her to societal shame and penalties. For according to Jewish law, premarital sex is punishable by death; and, in the ordinary course of things, pregnancy doesn’t occur without sex. So, Mary’s pregnancy out of wedlock exposes her to the penalty of death. As Joseph’s own attitude shows, in Mary’s society, no one wants to marry a woman who looks like a sinful woman and has an illegitimate child to support. Yet, Joseph had to struggle with that fact to accept it as coming from God, revealing also his life of integrity and faith in God.
Why should God put Mary through all this? Something that could make her to be suspected as a little liar. Yet, she bowed to the will of God as she recognized that what she carries in her is the Emmanuel. Truly we can now see and understand that there is no childish game of hide and seek with this God, who is present to witness our good deeds and our misdeeds.
Our prayer then should be, "Let the Lord enter (Ps 24:7c).” As we rejoice at the prospect of having God among us, may we also reflect on the awesome responsibility of living in His presence. As we are all called to belong to Jesus Christ, let us imitate Mary who when faced with the reality of the Emmanuel, placed her life completely at the service of God's plan.