Today, the fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the fouth candle on the Advent wreath – and our Readings at Mass today focus on Mary – her faith and love.

1st Reading: Micah 5:1-4
Psalm 79
2nd Reading: Heb 10:5-10
Gospel: Luke 1:39-44


O Key of David and sceptre of Israel, what You open no one else can close again; what You close no one can open. O come to lead the captive from prison; free those who sit in darkness and in the shadow of death.

Another translation of this antiphon as found in the Daily Missal reads as follows:

Key of David who open the gates of the eternal kingdom, come to liberate from prison the captive who lives in darkness

The concept of keys in the Bible usually denotes power being bestowed on someone. Jesus is the One on whom “all authority in heaven and on earth is bestowed” (Mt 28:19) and Who opens the gates of the eternal kingdom to us. When we sing this antiphon what does this mean to us today?

Can we look at the many keys which Jesus uses to open the Kingdom of heaven to us. Just to spotlight a few:

the key of Baptism by which we become children of God, brothers and sisters of Jesus – sharing in the life of the Trinity

the keys of Eucharist and of the Sacrament of Reconciliation which nourish this life within us.

the keys of the other sacraments which provide us with special graces.

the keys of Faith, Hope and Love which open up an inner source of wonder and reality.

Jesus left us a very precious key in the heart of His mother when with His dying breath on the Cross He said: “Woman behold your son – son behold your mother!” (Jn 19) If we turn this key and enter in what wonders we will find there. Remember she pondered in her heart on all that happened.

In today’s Gospel Mary is praised for her faith – “Blessed is she who believed that the promise made her by the Lord would be fulfilled”

There are many other keys – the list is endless………..

And what of us? Have we a tiny key we can offer to Jesus on Christmas night?
Can we once again offer Him the key of our hearts? – giving our unconditional consent to all that He asks of us in all the circumstances of our life no matter how lowly or insignificant? He stands at the door of our heart waiting for us to open – he waits on our ‘yes’ – the wonder!! And we so easily ignore Him.

We see Him waiting on Mary’s ‘yes’ at the Annunciation as St Bernard so beautifully expresses in a homily read at the Office of Readings today:

Open, O Blessed Virgin, your heart to faith; open your lips to speak; open your bosom to your Maker. Behold! The Desired of all nations is outside, knocking at your door. Oh! If by your delay he should pass by and again in sorrow you should have to begin to seek for him whom your soul loves! Arise then, run and open. Arise by faith, run by the devotion of your heart, open by your word. ‘And Mary said: Behold the handmaid of the Lord: be it done to me according to your word.”

May she obtain for us the grace to say our ‘yes’ to the Lord each day of our lives.