From the very beginning of recorded history evidenced by timeless pyramids and the ruins of ancient temples and sacred shrines, the past bares testimony of humanity longing to reach out in the direction of the heavens. But before we could even point to the stars, our Heavenly Father stepped into his own design, creating, fashioning, building humanity up out of the very dirt of the earth. And into these building blocks He breathed His Spirit forming man in the divine image. God was not distant. Our heavenly Father walked with our first parents in that garden, recognizable and distinct from the unspoiled splendor of the universe. In those days, before the foolishness of Adam and Eve, before sin contaminated creation, God was visible.
But because of the arrogance of fallen humanity, our history has seen the attempt of man to either play God or capture the divine. Although King David’s intention to build a temple for God is commendable, he is reminded through the prophet Nathan not to rely on a temple made by human hands. A temple made from bricks and cement will be destructible. God’s Presence, the prophet announces, will instead be enfleshed in a future descendant of King David.
CCC 269 Si Dios es Todopoderoso “en el cielo y en la tierra” (Sal 135,6), es porque él los ha hecho. Por tanto, nada ale es imposible (cf. Jr 32,17; Lc 1,37) y dispone a su voluntad de su obra (cf. Jr 27,5); es el Señor del universo, cuyo orden ha establecido, que le permanece enteramente sometido y disponible; es el Señor de la historia: gobierna los corazones y los acontecimientos según su voluntad (cf. Est 4,17b; Pr 21,1; Tb 13,2): “El actuar con inmenso poder siempre está en tu mano. ¿Quién podrá resistir la fuerza de tu brazo?” (Sb 11,21).
And when the fullness of time would come, as recounted in the Gospel, the creative God is seen at work again, building within the womb of the Virgin Mary, using her cells and DNA as the building blocks, the new bricks and cement forming the new body and blood of an individual that through every instance of his existence and development in her womb, a tiny developing temple of the living God, was being built to endure forever. This embryonic baby of Mary will not be the earthly temple of God made by human hands, or out of human initiative. It will be the very presence of the heavenly God dwelling among His people on earth. In Jesus, God walks again among us as He did with Adam and Eve in a restored creation.
As St. Irenaeus says, “Being obedient Mary became the cause of salvation for herself and for the whole human race.” “Maria, por su obediencia fue causa de la salvación propia y de la de todo el género humano”: what the virgin Eve bound through her disbelief, Mary loosened by her faith.” Comparing her with Eve, we call Mary “the Mother of the living” because “Death came through Eve, life through Mary.” “la muerte vino por Eva, la vida por María”. (LG. 56) .c.f. CCC 494
And as creation having now tasted God’s presence again and cries out for the fullness of salvation, bread and wine from the old order of creation, become now the substance of the new order – Jesus Christ. In Holy Communion, our own body becomes a living temple of God, a tabernacle for the Most High. By responding with total openness to her vocation, Mary was the first disciple to receive Holy Communion from God. For this reason, she is our model for how to prepare ourselves, physically as well as spiritually to receive Holy Communion worthily, to make a room ready, to prepare a place for God to dwell in our bodily lives, so that we, like Mother Mary, can also present the savior of all humanity to a waiting world.
Fourth Sunday of Advent (1962 calendar)
…a Isaías, que manda a los cielos nos envíen al Justo en suave rocío de bendición; a Juan Bautista, que nos exhorta a terminar de preparar el camino del Señor; y a María, llena Ella de gracia y llenas sus entrañas con la carga santísima de Jesús. Y puesto que nuestra Madre la Iglesia da hoy por casi terminada su misión de prepararnos para Navidad, ¡examínate, cristiano, si tú estás ya preparado para salir al encuentro del Salvador!
The introit sung by the choir as the procession began petitioned the heavens to send down rain upon the parched earth. It is therefore our prayer that the seed of faith that often remains dormant, now being watered by the heavens, will grow and from the soil of our lives, the Savior will blossom.
But we cannot force Jesus Christ to come forth. And so the first prayer that the priest makes in the collect, the opening prayer, petitions that that God will come to help us and that our sins might be cleared away in his mercy. But too often when we think of sin, we tend to think of the big sins, the mortal sins, the previous sins against God. Opening prayer seems to have in mind those “Little sins” which we often fail to address.
But the first reading, the epistle, seems to be God’s immediate answer to our prayer. We are reminded that we are “stewards of the mysteries of God”. The whole treasurer of Christ’s life and death and resurrection has been unlocked and given to us. The epistle should cause us to reflect on how well we have used the gifts of God given so freely by him to us. We are reminded that the all-knowing God would really the secret of our hearts.
The Psalm that was sung tonight encourages us, to call upon the Lord with a true heart. And the alleluia verse has us asking the Lord to come without delay to release us from our attachments to sin and to all that would prevent us from recognizing Jesus when he comes.
To help us in our preparation John the Baptist, by way of the Gospel, helps us to focus on the one who is to come and to recognize that Christ comes with saving power.
As we prepare the gifts at the altar, the bread and the wine, the sung offertory antiphon will naturally have us turn to Mary whose body and soul was perfectly free of every earthly attachment. She was the one tabernacle on earth fit for the all holy God to dwell in, for she was, is full of Grace. We naturally we look to her to help us in our detachment of the things which crowd are on minds, body and soul.
In the secret prayer of the priest, in other words, the prayer which the priest will make most intimately to God it is therefore fitting that we pray that these offerings may help us in our devotion and in our salvation in the same way as Mary offered for complete self to the will of God.
And so it makes sense that the Communion antiphon will remind us that “the virgin shall conceive and bear a son”–the fruit of her womb. We are also to conceive Christ spiritually in our souls, the fruit of our faith. And therefore, in our prayer after communion like Mary we must find room in our lives. In the same measure as we have made room for him, will be the same measure his grace will take root in out lives.