2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
When King David was settled in his palace, and the Lord had given him rest from his enemies on every side, he said to Nathan the prophet, “Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!” Nathan answered the king, “Go, do whatever you have in mind, for the Lord is with you.” But that night the Lord spoke to Nathan and said: “Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord: Should you build me a house to dwell in?’ “It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth. I will fix a place for my people Israel; I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place without further disturbance. Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old, since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel. I will give you rest from all your enemies. The Lord also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.”
Brothers and sisters: To Him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested through the prophetic writings and, according to the command of the eternal God, made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith, to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ be glory forever and ever. Amen.
Gospel Cycle Cycle B
The angel Gabriel was sent from God to a town of Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, and the virgin’s name was Mary. And coming to her, he said, “Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.” But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. Then the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. “Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. 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, for he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” But Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?” And the angel said to her in reply, “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you. Therefore the child to be born will be called holy, the Son of God. And behold, Elizabeth, your relative, has also conceived a son in her old age, and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren; for nothing will be impossible for God.” Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.
It is God who reaches out to us! It is God who wants to save us and offers us salvation. So often we think about what we can do for God without reflecting on his infinite and tender love for us. The first reading today, from the Second Book of Samuel, tells us about King David wanting to build a temple for the Lord. Instead, the Lord reminds King David that He, the Lord, is the one who has done everything and who will keep the House of David forever.
This is not pride on the part of God! Rather, it is God reminding us that He comes to save us. All of our actions are in response to His love and His compassion.
The second reading, from the Letter to the Romans, tells us again that everything that happens is a mystery and part of God’s love for us from the beginning of time. The purpose is to bring about an obedience of faith. In our times, the word obedience is not very popular and sounds to many to be a form of subservience. Yet in the plan of God, obedience is a faithful listening to the Lord and a willingness to do things His way. Instead of creating subservience, it creates a complete freedom in our loves to know His love and to express that love to others.
The Gospel today, from Saint Luke, is the Gospel of the Annunciation. We can only imagine the surprise of the young woman, Mary, when an angel appears to tell her that she will be pregnant! We are so accustomed to this story that it can easily lose its power. Here is a young women, striving to be faithful to the Jewish traditions. Out of nowhere comes an angel, telling her that she will be pregnant and bear the Son of God.
No one in their right mind would easily believe such a thing! On the other hand, we don’t know how this annunciation took place. Having an angel appear is not an ordinary occasion, even in the time of Jesus! There are other recorded instances of angels appearing in the Scripture, but they are not numerous over the thousands of years of history.
In some mysterious way, Mary is able to recognize that this angel really is of God and that she can consent to what the angel is asking of her. Perhaps some of us have had experiences in which we that we must do something and that it is God asking us, and yet we cannot explain it fully even to our friends. Perhaps some of us have had supernatural experiences in which we have been convinced of the presence of God. Always, such people must bear with the doubts of others.
The readings today invite us to open our hearts and our minds to the supernatural, to the presence of God, to seek His will and to be willing to look foolish in the eyes of the world for striving to live in union with the God who loves us. The birth of Jesus confirms God’s love for us. We await the coming of the Lord.