4th Sunday of Advent, Year B
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29 (2a)
December 20, 2020
David had become a great king, living in a great palace. There, “the LORD had given him rest from his enemies.”
Knowing what the Lord had done for him, King David said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent.”
The ark of God, the Ark of the Covenant, contained the Ten Commandments. The Ark was the very presence of God among the people. David saw it as unfitting that the Lord should not have a temple of his own.
Nathan agreed with David but before David could begin building a temple the Lord spoke to Nathan to say it was not for David to build the temple.
Before we jump to the conclusion that this means we shouldn’t have church buildings, please note that the Lord did have a place to dwell. It was a tent but it was what God had directed and it was no ordinary tent. It was the Tabernacle. If you read the story of the Exodus, you will hear the specific instructions God gave about the “tent”.
The Lord goes on speaking to Nathan to remind him of the great things the Lord has done for David.
Then the Lord delivers his promise of a great heir who will establish a house of David.
We see a partial immediate fulfillment of this promise in David’s son, Solomon, who will build a great temple.
We see the ultimate fulfillment of the Lord’s promise to David in the coming of Jesus. Through many kings, some who were good, and some who were bad, the Lord continued the lineage (house) of David through the centuries.
While there were kings who disobedient, Jesus came obedient to the Father, even to the point of death on the Cross for us.
It is with Jesus as the king that the kingdom “shall endure forever.”
Our gospel today tells the story of the beginning of Jesus’ time on earth at his conception.
“The angel Gabriel was sent from God…to a virgin betrothed to a man name Joseph.”
Virgin. Betrothed. Joseph.
Why a virgin? So that it would be clear this happened by the power of God and for Mary’s womb to be pure.
Why betrothed? And why specifically mention Joseph? Because a family with a good mother and good father is what God intends. It doesn’t always happen but it is the Lord’s desire.
The angel Gabriel greets Mary, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” Mary was immaculately conceived. She is “full of grace!”
Yet Mary was “greatly troubled” by this greeting and “pondered what sort of greeting” it was. Gabriel assured her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.” Gabriel assures her that God is with her.
Gabriel tells Mary she has been chosen to conceive Jesus in her womb and that He “will be called Son of the Most High.”
Mary wonders, “How can this be” for she has never been with a man. Mary is not doubting God. She seeks understanding. She asks in faith.
The angel Gabriel answers her, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.”
This is enough for Mary. With “obedience of faith”, she said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Mary says yes. This is known as Mary’s “fiat” (“fiat” means “let it be done).
From her yes Jesus, the Son of God, comes to dwell in her womb. Mary’s womb becomes a tabernacle, housing the Lord.
When have you said yes to God?
When have you said no to God?
When have you said “not yet” to God?
Not yet? Are you holding back? I think of St. Augustine who had led an immoral life until his conversion, admitting at first, he prayed, “Make me chaste but not yet.”
In saying “not yet”, we are saying that there are other things we want to do over what the Lord asks of us.
The Lord wants to dwell in our hearts. He wants us to be temples of the Holy Spirit. When we say “no” we do not let the Lord in. When we say, “not yet”, we hold God at a distance.
Are you willing to say to God, “may be done to me according to your word”?