Four catholic ladies were having coffee. The first catholic woman tells her friends, “My son is a priest. When he walks into a room, everyone calls him 'Father'.”
The second Catholic woman chirps, “My son is a bishop. Whenever he walks into a room, people call him 'Your Excellency!'.”
The third catholic crone says “My son is a cardinal. Whenever he walks into a room, he's called, 'Your Eminence'.”
Since the fourth catholic woman sips her coffee in silence, the first three give her this subtle, “Well...?” look, so she says “My son is 6'2”; he has broad square shoulders; he's terribly handsome and dresses very well. Whenever he walks into a room, women say 'Oh, my God...'.”
“Oh, my God!” is an expression of the unexpected, something that is awesome, something that is extraordinary. The Gospel’s reading for this fourth Sunday of Advent also causes us to say “Oh, my God!”
Mary would say, “Oh, my God, what is happening to me?”
“Oh, my God! The Angel Gabriel is talking to me.”
“Oh, my God! What does he mean, ‘Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you?”
“Oh, my God! I am pregnant!”
“Oh, my God! How am I going to explain to Joseph and to my family?”
“Oh, my God! My Son will be called Son of the Most High?”
“Oh, my God! How can it be?”
This is neither a philosophical nor a scientific disscusion. This is revelation. Christian faith is not a philosophy that someone thought up. Philosophy is pursuit of wisdom, a search for a general understanding of values and reality by chiefly speculative rather than observational means. A philosophy is a theory underlying or regarding a sphere of activity or thought. Christian faith is also not science. Science studies created and observable things in the world. Christian faith is revelation. God reveals to us that He is the creator and redeemer. God’s plan of salvation has been revealed throughout human history. The Scriptural readings today tell us about God’s plan. Jesus is Divine. He is the Messiah promised and foretold in the Old Testament.
A student poses this question to his Biblical professor, “Why do you believe that the Bible is the inspired word of God?” This is an interesting question; and probably one of the most important questions any Christian could ask. What is so special, so unique about the Bible that Christians believe it is literally the inspired word of God? In answering this question, we need to consider the following facts about the Bible:
Think about the above realities: 73 books, written by different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, on 3 different continents. This collection of books shares a common storyline - the creation, fall, and redemption of God's people; a common theme - God's universal love for all of humanity; and a common message - salvation is available to all who repent of their sins and commit to following God with all of their heart, soul, mind and strength. In addition to sharing these commonalities, these 73 books contain no historical errors or contradictions. God's word truly is an amazing collection of writings!
The professor then challenges that student go to any library in the world, and find 73 books which match the characteristics of the 73 books in the Bible. He must choose 73 books, written by 40 different authors, over 1500 years, in 3 different languages, written on 3 different continents, and they must share a common storyline, a common theme, and a common message, with no historical errors or contradictions.” He went on to say, “If you can produce such a collection of books, I will admit that the Bible is not the inspired word of God.”
Christmas proves that God’s word of promise is trustworthy. What he promises, he fulfills. God’s promise to David in the first reading is fulfilled in today’s Gospel. King David wants to build a house for God. But God rejects that idea. God tells David that everything that David has accomplished actually comes from God. God doesn’t need David to build a house for Him. Instead, God declares that he will make a house out of David. He will make David’s name great, and give him rest from his enemies and will establish him in an everlasting kingdom. His descendants would rule God’s people forever. This is the most important prophesy. The Messiah will be of royal lineage with the same mission to guide and protect God’s people.
In the Gospel’s reading, St. Luke introduces Mary by her relationship to Joseph. She is “a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph.” This Joseph is “of the house of David.” Mary is not yet fully a member of his household. She is still simply a young virgin woman promised to a young man from a Davidic lineage. Her question back to the angel, “how can this be, for I have no relations with a man?” historically seems quite odd. She is already betrothed to Joseph. Within a matter of months the betrothed couple will go through the final marriage ceremony and be living together, why does Mary ask the angel “How can this be?”
Her question, however, re-asserts her physical virginity and give the angel Gabriel an opportunity to explain Jesus’ divine origin. It is the power of the Holy Spirit. What is most evident from this angelic report is that the child who is wondrously conceived will have a unique relationship to the divine. He will be designated as “holy” and proclaimed as the “Son of God.”
As we about to celebrate Christmas, God is revealing to us again the divine identity of Jesus. We can declare, “Oh, my God! It is true! Jesus is Divine. Jesus is the Son of God!” Mary has been chosen to be the mother of the Savior. She is the Mother of the Son of God. The power of the Holy Spirit is working in her.
Mary has a lot to process and ponder. Yet her response is immediate and without wavering. Mary, in her unprepared, unprotected state, proclaims with simple faith “Here I am, the servant of the Lord, let it be with me according to your word” (v.38). She puts her complete trust in God. She makes herself available to God. She offers her service to God without reservation.
We also have a lot to process and ponder. With simple faith, we believe that Jesus is the Son of God. He is the Savior. We celebrate his birth. We follow his teachings and example. We are also chosen to take part in His Church. We are chosen to carry out God’s plan. We are facing many challenges in life. But, like Mary, we can also make ourselves available to serve God. We can also say, “I am the servant of the Lord! Be it done to me according to your word.”