By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis led the prayer of the Angelus in St. Peter’s Square on the fourth and final Sunday of Advent.
Reflecting on the day’s Gospel of the Annunciation (Lk 1:26-38), the Pope said the invitation to become the Mother of the Messiah carried with it both pure joy and great trial.
According to the Gospel, Mary was betrothed to Joseph, and faced the death penalty if found to be pregnant.
“Certainly, the divine message would have filled Mary’s heart with light and strength,” said the Pope. “Nevertheless, she found herself faced with a crucial decision: to say ‘yes’ to God, risking everything, even her life, or to decline the invitation and to continue her ordinary life.”
Active “yes” to God
Pope Francis noted how Mary offered her assent to God’s invitation with a wholehearted fiat: “Let it be done to me according to your word.”
He pointed out that, in the original Greek, the expression attributed to Mary “indicates a strong desire, the firm will that something happen.”
Hers was no simple, submissive “yes”, said the Pope. Mary actively bound herself to God.
“She is a woman in love prepared to serve her Lord completely and immediately.”
Mary, he added, does not hesitate or impose conditions on God.
Without considering the cost
The Pope reflected on how often we procrastinate in life, even in our spiritual life.
He said we know it would be good to pray, but that we say we don’t have time.
“‘I know it is important to help someone, but today I can’t. I will do it tomorrow.’”
Yet, as we cross the threshold into the Christmas Season, Mary invites us to offer our quick and courageous “yes”, no matter the cost.
In spite of difficult conditions
Pope Francis urged Christians to consider in what ways God is inviting us to say “yes”, especially in the difficulties surrounding Christmas in 2020.
“Instead of complaining in these difficult times about what the pandemic prevents us from doing, let us do something for someone who has less: not the umpteenth gift for ourselves and our friends, but for a person in need whom no-one thinks of!”
The Pope then warned against letting gift-buying consume our heart ahead of the holidays.
"Consumerism has stolen Christmas," he said, pointing out that the Holy Family filled the stable in Bethlehem with poverty and love, not consumerism.
Pope Francis concluded by inviting everyone to prepare our hearts for Christmas through prayer, "like Mary's: free from evil, welcoming, ready to receive God.”