2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
So as to be more receptive to the graces of the liturgy for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, let us imagine two kinds of dwellings. To the left we see King David sitting in his palace talking with the prophet Nathan. They are speaking about building a temple for the residence of the Arc of the Lord.
To the right is a more simple house in which the young girl Mary is speaking with somebody about making a new dwelling for the presence of the Lord. Centuries lay between the two places and events and yet there is a continuous link between them. Both David and Mary believe in God’s desire to be with the human family.
There is a popular Christmas song which begins, “O there’s no place like home for the holidays.” We have been praying with the wonderful song of God which makes a holiday of God’s making a home among us. The “Far-Away” God is moving from building to body, from “up there” to “in there.”
This last Sunday of Advent is not too late to do our Christmas-grace shopping. We could pray for a holy emptiness as was the heart and womb of the “first church,” Mary. Santa leaving a stocking empty might be a sign of disfavor, but we are praying with God’s favoring the holy and wholly empty. We will celebrate these coming days that there was room in a stable when there was none in the “Inn.”
We may be intent on filling the stockings and hearts of others these last few Advent days, which is a wonderful loving thing to do. We can pray before and during this Eucharistic liturgy for the grace of “silent Longing.” The older we get the less we find completion in the “thing” of things. We become aware so slowly that possessions highlight only that place inside which remains hollow despite our apparent fullness.
We can pray these days for the one gift which makes all other gifts and possessions precious and that is the gift of humble hole-ness; or “silent longing.” The God who said, “let there be light,” says again, “Let there be life,” and in Christ we have both with which to pray.
We listen to a double conversation in today’s First Reading. David talks to Nathan about the advisability of building a temple for the Arc of the Lord. He and his soldiers have retrieved this sacred presence of God in the previous chapter and he, David, danced before its cart during its journey back to Jerusalem. Nathan somewhat says, “whatever.”
The second conversation is between God and Nathan which has tremendous implications for the lineage of the Messiah. God promises to David through Nathan that David will be protected in his future as he has been since his having been called from the pasture to tend God’s people.
The second promise is that after David has died a line of descendants will continue and his kingdom will stand forever. God will be a father to this offspring-son and the son will acknowledge his father as God. Instead of David's building God a house, God in the conversation with Nathan twists the meaning of house. The new house will be a family line which will lead from David directly to the Messiah.
We listen to a familiar Gospel story for this Sunday of Advent. Luke presents this Annunciation from God through an angel in similar words which God spoke to Nathan. “He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary is invited to be the person through whom the promise to David will be fulfilled.
Last Sunday John the Gospel writer affirmed that Jesus and not the Baptist was the Messiah. Luke affirms that this same Jesus is the Promised One.
By the power of the Spirit of God breathing over the chaos, the formless was formed into creation. This same hovering Spirit fleshes out the completion of God’s love by breathing into Mary’s womb the re-creator. Mary, as with David, are faithful to the promise that God would be faithful and not abandon them or us. The word of the promise has taken flesh by the words, “Let it be done according to your word.” The “it” here is the fulfillment of the residing God. The “word” in “according to your word”, is not an echo, but rather a continual “I am” of which Jesus is the final syllable.
What makes a house a home? Those who live in the building either
transform the material or it never becomes anything but a fixture of hope.
The Jesus who makes his home with and in us, invites us to make our home
in him. How we live in him, in his body, in his home will continue
the process of his re-creating this world into his kingdom. Mary
said “let it be” and God said “let it be,” and we say, “let it all be done,”
because God and Mary and we see that it is very good. There is no
place like home for this holy day.
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