(Fourth Sunday of Advent: 2 Samuel 7:1-16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38)
The motto of the Society of Jesus is: Ad majorem Dei gloriam—For the Greater Glory of God. Today’s reading from St. Paul expresses, in a long sentence, the same sentiment: “To him who can strengthen you… be glory forever and ever.”
God’s glory is infinite. We cannot possibly add to it. We can, however, seek to reflect his glory more and more in our lives. It is a matter of service, whether great or small, according to our call and our abilities.
A famous biography of St. Teresa of Calcutta described her as having done Something Beautiful for God. King David had the same idea, but it was not his vocation. Still, he was rewarded for his desire to serve, and the promise made to him was fulfilled in Jesus, through the words of an Angel: “Of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Not all of us can glorify God as we might wish. The choice is not ours to make. Mary surely never expected to be the mother of the Messiah. But she did not refuse God’s call, and lived her vocation according to the gifts she had received. In fact, immediately after the Annunciation, she left home to help her cousin. In this and throughout her life the Lord was glorified (“magnified”) in her.
Mélanie never expected to encounter the Blessed Virgin and to be given a message for all her people. The time came, later, when she would gladly have served God as a religious Sister, but it was not to be. Instead, she faced many trials, and the Lord was glorified through her fidelity.
We cannot take the credit, however, when God is glorified in our lives. In one of the Prefaces at Mass we recognize this explicitly: “Although you have no need of our praise, yet our thanksgiving is itself your gift, since our praises add nothing to your greatness but profit us for salvation.”
Sometimes, all we can do is to acknowledge his glory, and to proclaim it as, for example, we do in today’s Psalm: “Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord!”
In this context, we can understand the message of La Salette as an echo of Psalm 34:4, as though Mary were urging us: “Glorify the Lord with me, together let us praise his Name.”