4th Sunday of Advent         

            If you are going to approach somebody for help, what will be the first thing you will ask? If you are going to invite a friend to an important event, what will you ask? If you are going to make an appointment with somebody, what will you ask? I think one of the first things – if not the very first thing – you have to ask is the availability of the person. “Are you available?” “Are you available for me?” “Are you available to be with me?” Being with somebody and doing something for somebody boils down to the question of availability.

            One of the most beautiful examples of availability is that of Mary, as expressed in today’s gospel. In giving her fiat, Mary made herself totally available to God. She selflessly placed herself at the Lord’s disposal. She made herself available for God’s saving work. “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.”      

            Mary’s availability to God and his plan, suggests our own mission to be totally available to God and his saving work. We must always have a sense of preparedness and readiness to be of value or to be of use for God’s purposes. We must always be willing to put our capacity, power, or ability to be of help at God’s service. And we are also called to be available to one another as a manifestation of our availability to God.

            There are great abilities that people acquire, cultivate, and demonstrate. In the service of God, however, there is one ability that is the greatest ability of all. The greatest ability is availability. However, if we are not available to God and for his works, no matter what other kinds of ability we have, our ability is no good. In fact, ability without availability becomes liability.

            Sometimes we assume God cannot use us for his purposes because we do not have great abilities or special talents. We feel we are just ordinary (or worse, nobody) and do not have anything special for God’s use. But we should always remember that God never asks about our ability, only about our availability. Are we available for God’s service?

            We need to emphasize another important point about availability: Availability is always for someone; it is other-oriented. It is never self-centered or selfish. That is why availability is one of the surest signs of love, precisely because it is a sign of unselfishness or selflessness.

            One philosopher said that availability is “essentially openness to the other, a radical surrender to the other.” That is why availability means that I cannot be prejudiced, I cannot impose my will or my ideas on the other. In other words, I have to be open to love, and I cannot be that if I have my own selfish ideas and prejudices.

            May we manifest our love of God by being always available to him, always available to do his will, always available for his kingdom. Patunayan natin ang pagmamahal natin sa Diyos sa pagiging available sa paglalaan ng sapat na panahon sa pananalangin – hindi lamang para humingi sa Diyos ng mga bagay-bagay, kundi para alamin at matutuhang tanggapin ang kanyang kalooban. Patunayan natin ang pagmamahal natin sa Diyos sa pagiging available sa pagbabahagi ng ating sarili at paggamit ng ating kakayahan – talino, talento, lakas, galing, husay, abilidad, kapasidad – para sa pangkalahatang kabutihan o common good. Patunayan natin ang pagmamahal natin sa Diyos sa pagiging available sa pagganap sa misyon na iniatang o ipinagkatiwala niya sa atin – ang aktibong makilahok, makisangkot, at kumilos para pamayanihin ang tunay at ganap na kapayapaan, katarungan at kaginhawahan.

            Our availability to God is, indeed, a manifestation of our love for him. May the Fiat or Yes of Mary inspire us to build our life upon saying YES to God in the ordinary situations of our life. May we be able to proclaim and show in our way of life: Yes, to the gospel values of Christ, and NO to the distorted values of materialism. Yes, to seeking the kingdom of God first, and NO to pursuing selfish ambitions. Yes, to spending enough time in prayer everyday – putting it on top of our priorities. Yes, to treating others as brothers and sisters – even those who are not brotherly or sisterly. Yes, to serving our community and being good stewards – sharing our time, talents, and resources. Yes, to being good news to the poor, feeding the hungry, helping the needy, comforting the sad, caring for the sick. Yes, to being faithful to our vows or commitments – be it in marriage or religious life. Yes, to forgiving those who have hurt us and to reconciling with them.

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