Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 24, 2017
From the time that God directed Abram (later to be known as Abraham) to leave the comfort of his hometown and go out into a strange land, abandoning the familiar and venturing into the unknown, the Jewish people have taken pride in being “chosen.” God chose Abraham and later his descendants for a special role in salvation history. That’s why you often hear them referred to as “the Chosen People.”
We typically take pride in being “chosen” for this or that. Granted, there are times when we are “passed over” that we actually feel relieved. But even then, the sense of relief is usually tinted with feelings of being overlooked or unappreciated, even unworthy…deemed unfit or not up to the task.
And then there are times, when chosen, that we decline. Sometimes, even though we accept, we give only a half-hearted effort to the task. Either way, this can leave us wondering: What would have happened had I accepted? What would things be like if I had made a true effort?
Being chosen by God is clearly a great privilege. However, as we see in today’s Gospel, an invitation from God also requires that we leave our comfort zone and venture into strange and uncharted territory. Being chosen by God involves risk-taking and requires strong faith and trust in God, together with courage and self-sacrifice. Being chosen by God involves commitment even to the point of suffering. Mary was chosen. She accepted God’s invitation and embraced the task with her entire being.
Christians are likewise chosen to bring Christ into the world, although not in the same dramatic and unrepeatable way as the Blessed Mother. Still, at our Baptism, God whispers the Eternal Word into our very being and then invites us to do just what was asked of Mary…permit the Word to take on our flesh…so that Christ might come to dwell in this world.
We are called not simply to celebrate the Birth of Jesus Christ…The Incarnation…God’s Eternal Word taken Flesh to dwell in this world. God has chosen us to participate in the great mystery of our faith. This might require us to step out of our comfort zone and venture into unknown or unexplored territory. But if we accept the invitation and commit ourselves wholeheartedly to the work of discipleship, we will find that we have ventured into the Promised Land…where The Spirit of Christmas never ends!