4th Sunday in Advent, Year B
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalm 89:2-3, 3-5, 27, 29 (2a)
December 24, 2017
King David was a great king. He is the king who built the kingdom of Israel but he knew he did it by God’s grace. David had a great palace but the Lord still dwelt in the tent from the Exodus. David decided it was time to make a great house (temple) for the Lord. This makes sense. After all, our God is an awesome God.
At first, the prophet Nathan agrees with David. Again, it makes sense. But it was not God’s plan. God spoke to Nathan to set David straight. It is not for David to do this. God has a plan. David’s son, Solomon, will build a great temple but ultimately it is Jesus who becomes the true temple.
Christmas is Jesus’ birth, his emerging visibly into our world.
It is almost Christmas but not yet. We can see it in the decorations in church today. The crèche is up with the animals but not Mary and Joseph. They haven’t arrived yet. Our Christmas trees are up but they are not lighted. It’s not quite time yet. We shouldn’t rush. Christmas is worth waiting for.
As we get ready for Christmas, our gospel passage today reminds us of what was “necessary” for Jesus’ birth. Mary had to say yes.
God had chosen Mary to be the mother of Jesus. She was confused by Gabriel’s words but she said yes to God. She asked, “How can this be?” She trusted in Gabriel’s response, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
Of course, God knew Mary would say yes. So, God had already placed his favor upon her at the time of her own conception so that she would be conceived without sin to be worthy to carry Jesus in her womb.
Mary said yes to God and good things happened.
Do we say “yes” to God?
The reality is we don’t always say yes to God. Advent is a time for us to think about how often we say yes or no to God. What do we need to change in our lives?
We can and should always strive to conform our lives to Christ but the reality is we continue to fall short. We cannot earn our way into Heaven.
That’s why we have Christmas. It was God’s plan for his Son to come into the world to be our savior.
Part of many family Christmas traditions is the exchanging of gifts. These are earthly gifts, some wonderful, some not so wonderful but no earthly gift can compare with the present that God gives us for Christmas, the gift of Jesus that makes salvation possible.
God does not give us this gift because of our merit. He gives us this gift from his love and mercy.
God gives us the gift of Jesus but do we accept the gift? One might want to say, “Of course I accept the gift” but we know what it means to accept it.
To accept the gift means opening ourselves to God’s way. It means striving to live as God teaches. Mary was open to whatever the Lord asked of him. As we begin Christmas in a few hours, may we set aside earthly things and open ourselves to the gift of Jesus.