Homily for December 22nd | Thursday of the 4th Week of Advent
There is such a beautiful connection between the two women that we hear about in our readings this morning. Both women, Hannah and Mary, are overjoyed at the news of the birth of their sons and offer the Lord praise and fidelity.
Remember, Hannah had been barren for so long and had taken her request for a child to the Lord, praying that if He had given her a son, she would dedicate him to the service of the Temple for his entire life. When she did become pregnant, she was so overjoyed that the Lord heard her prayer and responded to her out of His abundant mercy and generosity. And her response to that gift was one of total fidelity to the promise she had made. And so, Samuel was offered to the service of God and the Lord had a special mission for him.
In Mary’s case, she, too, had prayed for an important child to be born. As a little girl, like every Jewish individual, she had prayed that the Lord would send her people a Savior, that He would send a Messiah to bring liberation and freedom. What an immense honor and blessing to be the instrument that God chose to bring that Savior into the world. And what is Mary’s response to that? One of praise and thanksgiving. It’s one of fidelity.
Mary’s Magnificat, which we have just heard in our Gospel, is that prayer of gratitude and praise. It is a very similar prayer to the Responsorial Psalm that we heard this morning, which is actually the prayer of Hannah from the First Book of Samuel. Mary is rejoicing because the God of the universe had decided to look upon her with favor; He had decided to demonstrate His immense love for humanity and to give Himself to us, to offer us a Savior. God had chosen to become one of us.
Though He was rich, God became poor in order to bring us to freedom, to fullness of life. He became one of us so that we could experience the joy of everlasting life with Him, to give us a way back to Himself. He became one of us to put to death death itself. That is a beautiful gift, one that should encourage us to offer our own prayer of praise and thanksgiving, our own prayer of fidelity.
On Christmas morning, when we celebrate the birth of our Savior, may we remember truly what great gift that one event in history is for us. May we echo the words of Hannah and Mary and give praise to the Lord because He has looked upon our people with favor, because He looked upon us with love. And may we recommit ourselves on Christmas to always follow the will of the Lord, to be disciples of Jesus, and continue to bring Him to others.
Image: Hannah presents her son Samuel to the temple, Vornbach. Fresco in the Abbey Church of the Assumption of Mary, Lower Bavaria. Photo taken by Wolfgang Sauber. Wikicommons. Used under Creative Commons Attribution-Share Alike 4.0 International license.