Saturday, December 20, 2014

Dec. 21, 2014: 4th Sunday of Advent B

Click to hear Audio Homily
One of the most popular messages that commencement speakers give at the graduation ceremony of high school or college is: "Follow your dreams...For the most important decisions in your life, trust your intuition...The key is to listen to your heart and let it carry you in the direction of your dreams." While such advice sounds inspiring, it can also lead to a selfish or self-serving path. Underneath the slogan of "Follow your dreams," there seems to be a philosophy that happiness lies in self-fulfillment and having one's needs met.

This was not the speech that Archangel Gabriel gave to Blessed Mother in today's Gospel. In the Annunciation event, Gabriel proclaimed an invitation from God to Blessed Mother, "Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus." In response to this invitation, Blessed Mother did not say, "I'm sorry, but I already have my own plans. I want to follow my own dream." Instead she wanted what God wanted for her, not what she wanted for herself. Underneath her courageous "yes" to the invitation from God, Blessed Mother had an openness to faith and trust and her happiness was based on fulfilling God’s plan for her.

When Blessed Mother said 'yes' and made a complete gift of herself to God, she trusted so deeply in God that she was open to all possibilities. She gave up control over her future and let God define her life--a life vastly different from what she could have imagined in her wildest dream. With her 'yes,' God who made the Universe became a living presence in her womb, a child who would in time become the Messiah, a child who would be called the Savior of the world.

Sometimes we are forgetful why God put us here on earth. "God made me to know Him, to love Him, and to serve Him in this world, and to be happy with Him for ever in heaven." Looking back this year, have we fulfilled the purpose for which we were made? What concrete steps have we taken to know God more? Did we study His words in scriptures? Have we gotten closer to a particular saint whose life inspires us to grow closer to God? How much time have we spent in loving God by speaking to Him in prayer? Have we made concrete plans to serve God by serving our neighbor or community? In the end, we ask the question, "Am I happier this year because I fulfilled God's plan for me or am I not happy because I pursued my plans neglecting God's plans for me."

Life imposes a lot of duties on us--duties to others and duties to God. Can you imagine, though, a world where everyone just thought of themselves and insisted on doing their own thing, seeking their own freedom, happiness, and fulfillment independent of others and of God? Those who accept God’s plan for them find happiness and fulfillment in the eyes of God. The greatest grace in life is when we realize that, "I want what God wants, nothing more, nothing less, and nothing else."