The Gospel for Sunday, December 18, 2005
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Today, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the liturgy prepares us for Christmas, already very near, inviting us to meditate on the Gospel of the Annunciation. It is the well-known scene, also portrayed by famous artists, in which the Angel Gabriel discloses the divine plan of the Incarnation to Mary: "And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus" (Lk 1:31; cf. Mt 1:21, 25).
Jesus! This name, by which Christ was known in his family and among his friends in Nazareth, exalted by the crowds and invoked by the sick during the years of his public ministry, calls to mind his identity and mission as Savior. In fact "Jesus" means "God saves". A blessed name, which also proved to be a sign of contradiction, ending by being written on the Cross in justification of his death sentence (cf. Jn 19:19). But this name, in the supreme sacrifice of Golgotha, shone forth as a life-giving name in which God offers the grace of reconciliation and peace to all mankind.
In this name the Church finds her whole good, she invokes it unceasingly, she proclaims it with ever new ardor. As the Catechism of the Catholic Church says: "The name ĎJesusí signifies that the very name of God is present in the person of his Son, made man for the universal and definitive redemption from sins" (432). It is the divine name which alone brings salvation "for there is no other name under heaven given among men by which we must be saved" (Acts 4:12).
Jesus himself shows us the saving power of his name, giving us this consoling certitude: "If you ask anything of the Father, he will give it to you in my name" (Jn 16:23). Thus whoever calls with faith on the name of Jesus can have an experience similar to the one mentioned by the Evangelist Luke when he remarks that the crowd sought to touch him, "for power came forth from him and healed them all" (Lk 6:19).
Let us learn lovingly to repeat the Holy Name of Jesus. By putting it at the centre of our prayer, especially liturgical, we will make our own the Apostle Paulís instruction: "and at the name of Jesus every knee should bow, in heaven and on earth" (Phil 2:10).
With what motherly tenderness must the Blessed Virgin, whom we contemplate awaiting her Sonís birth, have pronounced Jesusí name! In the prayer that the Church addresses to her with the Hail Mary, she is associated with the very blessing of her Son: "Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb, Jesus". Let Mary put on our lips and impress on our hearts this most holy Name from which comes our salvation.