Fourth Sunday of Advent

May it be done to me according to your word.
~Lk 1:38

It may come as a surprise to know that the Blessed Virgin Mary is honored not only by Christians, but by Muslims as well. In fact, if we go by the number of times the name “Mary” is mentioned in their respective scriptures, we find that Mary’s name appears more times in the Quran than it does in the Bible. The Quran, granted, is not considered by the Church to be an inspired text, and whatever the nature of its origin, the content the Quran shares with the New Testament reflects the theology of non-mainstream Christian groups that Mohammed would have potentially encountered in the Arabian Peninsula.

The Quran contains a number of references to the Annunciation, most descriptively at Sura 3, 44. While the Quran’s account follows more or less the account we find in today’s Gospel (recall that the Gospel of Luke was written around the year 80 A.D. while the Quran’s earliest date would be 632 A.D.) there is one glaring difference: there is no account in the Quran of Mary’s response and acceptance to the message of Gabriel; there is no fiat (Let it be done).

Mary’s fiat is a mystery and a marvel to behold. Through her simple, free response (which Cardinal Cantalamessa proposes would  have been literally amen in Mary’s native Aramaic) the divorce between Creation and its Creator was now open to being healed. Only the one who was “full of grace” a grace received in light of Christ’s future salvific work, possessed the freedom of heart necessary to make such a full, unrestrained, and unconditional response to the plan of God. This is key. God will not save us without our cooperation. He will not compel us to be holy if we don’t want to be. It will be our loss… eternally if we refuse, and still we are not forced. To the one who claims that Catholicism doesn’t do much for him, our response should be: “Well, how much have you really tried to know and to live the faith? How much of a response have you actually made?”

True freedom is to be found here. The poor, obedient, virgin has nothing and no one on whom to rely except the Lord. With Him, however, she possesses all.

Fr. Richard Hinkley