Archbishop’s Teaching

4th Sunday of the Advent The Annunciation Luke 1:26-38

Homily of His Excellency Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

4th Sunday of the Advent

The Annunciation
Luke 1:26-38

Dear brothers and sisters in Christ,

Is it not a paradox to celebrate the announcement of good news
accompanied by an invitation to joy, while so much bad news assails us
through the media, leaving us with so much anxiety for the future, so
much sorrow, so much disappointment, so much discontent that gnaw at
our hearts ? How can we still rejoice at the news of the fulfilment of
salvation that God brings us through the advent of his only Son into our
The joy God brings us is not of this world, it comes from Him, He is our
joy, as Saint Theresa of the Child Jesus tells us, provided that we accept,
like the Virgin Mary, to welcome Him as the Gospel of salvation in our
lives, to enter into the mystery of His Love and contemplate the miracles
He performs in hearts that are gentle and humble, simple and open to His
grace, like Mary's heart.
Yet, accepting this Good News does not come without a sense of fear,
without meditation to realize how infinitely small we are in face of God's
infinitely great love for us. Mary found it hard to believe the angel's
greeting and was overwhelmed, even though the angel reassured her: "Do
not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God".
For Mary, finding favor with God is not a privilege, but a call to fulfill a
mission: to give life to the one who came to bring life in abundance for
the salvation of the world. So she listens attentively to God's Word, to
give it flesh in her flesh, in her heart, by humbly being at His service. This
will come through her free response, but also and above all through her
abandonment into God's hands!
Following Mary's example, can we too welcome with joy the good news
of the living Gospel that is Jesus Christ the Son of God, despite the
difficult circumstances that complicate our lives, despite the troubled
times of wars, crises, epidemics...?
We too are called to listen, to welcome the Word so that it can be born in
us. We can't carry the Word of God inside us as Mary did. Yet, it is indeed
a true birth in us of this Word. If Christ is not incarnated in our flesh, he
can nevertheless come into us to fill us with his life, so that his Word can
take root, bear fruit and multiply in us. We will then keep this Word like
Mary. And we too will bear fruit in ourselves and around us.
Let us remember that we have been baptized, that we have become sons
and daughters of God through Jesus, his only Son, that we are loved and
forgiven, and that we have been sent together to bear witness through our
lives to all that God has done for us and in us, just as he did with the Virgin
Let us remember that this good news entrusted to us to bring to others will
bear no fruit without our "yes". With Mary, let us repeat: “I am the Lord’s
servant. Let this thing you have said happen to me!!

With Saint Bernard, we pray to the Virgin Mary:
Remember, O most gracious Virgin Mary, that never was it known that
anyone who fled to your protection, implored your help or sought your
intercession, was left unaided. Inspired by this confidence, I fly unto you,
O Virgin of Virgins, my Mother. To you do I come, before you I stand,
sinful and sorrowful. O Mother of the Word Incarnate, despise not my
petitions, but in your clemency, hear and answer me. Amen

† Archbishop Selim Sfeir
Maronite Archbishop of Cyprus

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