Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
December 21, A.D. 2008
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
A reflection on today's Scripture:
It is a well-known fact that the practice of many people in our country to buy expensive homes way beyond their means led to the recent economic downturn in our country.
In this Sunday's first reading, God scolds David for trying to build Him a house of gold, when, for years, God says He has been perfectly satisfied to live in a tent. This tent (called the Ark of the Covenant) had poles attached so that it could be easily carried from place to place. When the Israelites went into battle, the Ark of the Covenant was carried by Levites, students for the Jewish priesthood. In later times, it rested in the Holy of Holies in the Temple that David's son, Solomon, built. But that was later. In today's readings, God says, "Not yet!" Through the prophet, Nathan, God tells the King that He'll let Solomon do the building of the temple.
This reading was chosen for the Fourth Sunday of Advent to show that sometime later, God is going to do something truly awesome. He is going to send His Son, Jesus, and Jesus will choose for His Temple a human person called Mary. We may ask how, then, is it possible for Jesus to be set on the throne of David as the Father had promised. The answer lies in the fact that Jesus' mother, Mary, and His foster-father, Joseph, are both descendents of David. In this way, the promise will be fulfilled.
The Gospel today tells us how all this is to happen. God sends His Angel, Gabriel, to ask Mary if she will consent to God's plan. After a discreet inquiry as to how all of this will come about, she simply says, "Yes." Then she adds, "May your will be done." She asks no more questions; she just trusts that God will take care of everything -- before, during, and after the event.
It will help us to trust if we can take to heart the meaning of a name applied to Jesus: Emmanuel. It means "God is with us!" The coming feast of Christmas is meant to take away our fear of a distant God. It is meant to make all of us ambassadors of the Light. Advent has been all about waiting. And now we know what the waiting was all about.
We are meant to live our lives in the spirit of freedom, opening them up to God's action just as Mary did. Despite our unworthiness, despite our frustrations with the corruption of the world about us, God is with us, making sense of all our struggles and suffering and all our misery, helping us to believe that we are part of a much larger Advent in which Christ will come for the last time. Then, all those prophecies we heard read in the last few weeks will be brought to fulfillment.
If we can only learn to give a simple, unqualified "yes" as Mary did, our lives will become less stressful, more directed by grace, and more joyful. That's why itís so important for us to confess our sinfulness before Christmas, to be absolved of those obstacles to Jesus' full coming into our hearts. Christmas is just around the corner, bringing another opportunity for God to enter His world through us.
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore |
Sunday, December 21, 2008
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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