This year, the Fourth Sunday of Advent is not only the Fourth Sunday of Advent, it is the whole week of Advent. Honestly, I always feel like we get gypped of Advent time when Christmas Eve is on a Sunday because the fourth week of Advent is only one day long.
Interestingly, this week’s Collect is also the closing prayer of the ancient prayer, The Angelus. The Angelus, which is traditionally prayed at six, noon, and six, focuses on the Incarnation of Jesus and this practice of three times a day, mirrors what we pray for. Praying the Angelus interrupts whatever you are doing, just like the arrival of Christ, in the Incarnation, interrupted the world.
Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord, your grace into our hearts, that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son was made known by the message of an Angel, may by his Passion and Cross be brought to the glory of his Resurrection. Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, for ever and ever.
When we pray The Angelus, we reflect on the visit between Mary and the angel, Gabriel. Looking at this Collect through that lens makes this prayer our response to Gabriel’s words.
If we were sitting there with Mary at the hour of the visitation, when angel told Mary that she was filled with grace, our response to the angel, which is actually our beseeching or begging, could have been, “I want that, too! I want God to pour his grace into my heart just like He did with Mary.”
What was revealed and promised to Mary is revealed and promised to us, as well. We have been promised that we can come into glory through the Passion and Cross of Jesus, but we cannot pick and choose which event of Jesus’ life we like best. We cannot separate the mystery of Christ into the main miracles of His life.
We should not celebrate His birth without remembering why He came. Likewise, we should not celebrate Easter without recalling that He was born to die for us. When we enter into His glory, we will encounter the incarnate one, the crucified one and the risen one and that One is Jesus.
There’s one more thing about this prayer, in regards to the words was made known. In the Latin form of the prayer, we find the verb cognovimus. Cognovimus does mean to be made known but it implies that we don’t just know someone or know about them, it means that we are acquainted with them. When we are acquainted with someone we have first-hand knowledge about them because gained this knowledge through a personal encounter.
Advent always seems to fly by with activities and distractions, but it is not too late for an encounter with Jesus. While we will not have the same personal encounter with Jesus quite like Mary did, Jesus wants us to have a personal spiritual encounter with Him. Let the Holy Spirit overshadow you and let this encounter bring new life in you. The glory of the Resurrection begins with the birth of Jesus. Imagine the brightness of the Christmas Star combined with the light of the Resurrection. This is the brightness of His light in us as we are filled with His grace.
Wishing you a very Blessed Christmas,