What a joy it is to reach the fourth and last Sunday of Advent! The season is a run-up to the arrival of the Messiah at Christmas and a prefiguring of His Second Coming at an unknown time in the future. It behoves us to wait in hope, and like the poor shepherds on that cold winter night on the hills of Bethlehem, we too will be let in on the divine secret.

The First Reading taken from the Second Book of Samuel (7: 1-5, 8b-11, 16) recalls the time when God had handpicked David from his pastoral calling to become king of Israel. The man after God’s own heart, who was favoured with peace and happiness, now wished to return the favour by upgrading the shelter of the Ark of the Covenant. He opened his heart in this regard to prophet Nathan.

But then, that very night God unfolded His plan to build the royal house of David as a temple to the Living God. It is another matter that subsequent generations were unfaithful; they lost the Ark of the Covenant and the Temple built by David’s son Solomon was destroyed. God renewed his covenant yet again, by sending His Only Son Jesus (as Son of David) to be born in Mary’s womb (the temple or tabernacle) and establish God’s kingdom (not a political one).

Unfortunately, the Jews unfolded their own story of unfaithfulness. They unceremoniously rejected the Messiah. No wonder, the Temple that had been rebuilt was destroyed (70 A.D.) and the Jews dispersed, suffering persecution worldwide. This is in stark contrast to Mary who was faithful. She gave her fiat, convinced that she was part of a Godly plan, and famously said: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” That is the highpoint of today’s Gospel text (Lk 1: 26-38).

Let us learn from Mary. Even when we find it difficult to suspend our judgement and wear God’s thinking cap, try we must, for that is when God steps in and unfolds our personal roadmaps. We are called through Baptism and the other Sacraments to have a peek into that mystery. And a fuller understanding of it will come in due time.

That is why, St Paul in the Second Reading (Rom 16: 25-27) gives glory to God for “the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages.” This time around, it stands revealed to the Jews and pagans alike; it is the plan of eternal salvation wrought through His Son Jesus Christ. It is realised through the Cross, against all expectations, and manifested by the proclamation of the Gospel by the Apostles. And likewise, Mary continues to guide the Church by her supreme example of faithfulness.

Waiting for someone is a sign of faithfulness and love. And eventually God rewards humankind with “the gift of God Himself”, as Pope John Paul II says in his encyclical Redemptoris Mater, talking about the Virgin Mary: “The fullness of grace announced by the angel means the gift of God himself.” Hence, until Christmas, which is a few hours away, and until the Lord’s Second Coming, we can do nothing better than chant: “I will sing for ever of your love, O Lord.”

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