Word Sharing Circle (WSC) Reflection Guide
December 24, 2017 – 4th Sunday of Advent (Cycle B, Year II)
Community Word: We celebrate God’s presence in us at all times.
Theme: God’s presence keeps us ready and willing to respond to His call.
Promise: “The Holy Spirit will come upon you…nothing will be impossible for God.”
In today’s gospel, we commemorate the Annunciation and the start of the life of the God made-man. In the middle of this great event was young Mary of Nazareth who had the unique privilege of being mother to the very Son of God. The pains and pleasures of her motherhood are understood by all mothers everywhere. She saw Jesus arrive as her baby son and watched Him die as her Savior. The lessons from Mary’s life of obedience can be summed up as follows:
1. God’s best servants are often the ordinary people available to Him.
Joseph and Mary, chosen to be the mother and foster father of the Messiah, were ordinary people from a small town called Nazareth. Mary was a young woman of humble origins, typical of the people of her day, and seemingly too insignificant for such an important task as becoming the mother of God. But God chose Mary for one of the most important acts of obedience He has ever demanded of anyone. Often, we may feel that our situation in life makes us unlikely candidates for God’s service, but we must not limit God’s choice because He can use us if we trust in Him.
2. God’s plan involved extraordinary events in the lives of ordinary people.
Until Gabriel’s visit, Mary’s life was going about well as she could hope. She had recently become engaged to a local carpenter, Joseph, and was anticipating married life. But Mary’s life was about to change forever. God’s blessing does not automatically bring instant success, fame or favor. His blessing on Mary, the honor of being the mother of the Messiah, would lead to much pain; her peers would ridicule her; her fiancé would come close to leaving her; her Son would be rejected and murdered. But through her Son would come hope for the world. This is why Mary is praised by countless generations as “blessed among women.” Her submission led to mankind’s salvation. When our blessings lead to sorrow, think of Mary and wait patiently for God to finish working out His plan for us.
3. Our character is revealed by our response to the unexpected.
Mary is greatly troubled by the angel’s words and wonders what the greeting implied. “Hail, favored one! The Lord is with you.” Why am I favored? But the angel gives an answer with further explanation. “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. Behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High…” Mary was very much aware that in Israel at that time, everyone was awaiting the coming of the Messiah and she had no doubts about the truth of the angel’s proclamation. However, her next question was very relevant. “How can this be since I do not know man?” (Luke 1:34). After all, faith must also be reasonable, and not blind. So we ask questions to enlighten our minds. And the angel continues to explain that “the Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
The birth of Jesus to a virgin is a miracle that many unbelievers find difficult to accept. However, Luke holds this virgin birth to be true. Firstly, Luke was a medical doctor and he knew how babies are made. It would have been as hard for him to believe in a virgin birth, as it is with many contemporary scoffers. And yet he reported it as fact. Secondly, Luke was a painstaking researcher who based his Gospel on eyewitness account. Traditions hold that he talked with Mary about the events in the first two Chapters of his book. This is her story, not a fictional invention. And, thirdly, Christians and Jews, who worship God as Creator of the universe have no doubt that He can create a child in a virgin’s womb, if He so chooses.
Mary’s answer was a wholehearted “Yes” to the call and her humble response was: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your Word,” (Luke 1:38). With her consent she makes the mystery of the Incarnation possible, affected by the Holy Spirit. God can become man if we say “yes” to his call. We could imagine that even if she had known all she would suffer as Jesus’ mother, Mary would have given the same response.
Almighty Father, let Your will be done in my life. Even if I am not sure of the path that I will thread, give me the grace to be humbly obedient to Your commands, knowing that when I keep my faith strong and my hope enduring, in the end I will reap the reward of fullness and abundance because nothing is impossible with You, Lord. Amen.
1. Like Mary, how will you respond when God asks you to fulfill a mission that may seem to disrupt your comfortable life?
2. Recall a situation in your life when you simply trusted in God’s will and you were blessed by it.
This Week’s Daily Mass Reading Guide:
December 24, 2017 (Sun) – 2Sm 7:1-5,8-12,14,16/ Ps 89:2-3,4-5,27,29/ Rom 16:25-27/
December 25, 2017(Mon) – Is 62:11-12/Ps 97:1, 6, 11, 12/Ti 3:4-7/Lk 2:15-20
December 26, 2017 (Tues) – Acts 6:8-10; 7:54-59/Ps 31:3, 4, 6, 8, 17, 21/Mt 10:17-22
December 27, 2017(Wed) – 1Jn 1:1-4/Ps 97:1, 2, 5, 6, 11, 12/Jn 20:1, 2-8
December 28, 2017 (Thur) – 1Jn 1:5-2:2/Ps 124:2,-8/Mt 2:13-18
December 29, 2017 (Fri) – 1Jn 2:3-11/Ps 96:1-3, 5, 6/Lk 2:22-35
December 30, 2017(Sat) – Sir 3:2-6, 12-14/Ps 128:1-5/Col 3:12-21/Lk 2:22-40
“Ignorance of the Bible is ignorance of Christ. Read your Bible daily!”