Homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent, Cycle B–2017
FIRST READING 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.”
SECOND READING Romans 16:25-27
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 Luke 1:26-38
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.
My Sisters and Brothers in Christ,
It is God who builds the house! It is God who sends the Savior! It is God who comes to Mary and through Mary gives us the Savior. All comes from God and all returns to God, but the present is the important time because it is now that God and humans are in relationship.
The first reading today is from the Second Book of Samuel. What a wonderful account of David and of David’s desire to build a house for the Lord! The point of this account, however, is that all of us must recognize that God is the center of life and not us. At one level we can do nothing for God.
That should not stop us from trying to do everything for God! Even though all we have comes from God, we can still return His love by striving to live for Him and striving to be faithful to all that He asks of us. This is a normal, natural response to knowing the love of God.
The second reading today comes from the Letter to the Romans and speaks of the mystery of salvation now being revealed. Only when we believe in a personal God who loves us does any “plan of God” make sense. Sure God does not have to “plan” the way that we humans do, but God always has our good in His mind and is working to bring about His goodness and love within us. Part of the “plan” of God was sending His Only Son to save us from ourselves.
Today, many people do not believe in God or in salvation. On the other hand, if we look around our world at any time in history—if we look today—we see what a mess we humans make of our lives. In the 1900s there was a large movement that believed that we humans could make everything better and perfect. That kind of thinking is still around us in those who are convinced that our problems come from political systems or from economic systems or from other causes. There is practically no recognition today that our problems come from our fallen human nature and that we humans, by ourselves, are unable to fix ourselves and are in need of salvation.
The Gospel from Saint Luke today presents us with Mary saying “yes” to God’s invitation in her life. This is the dawn of our salvation! Only in Jesus the Savior will our world ever be at peace. Only in Jesus as Lord will nations be able to work together. Only with Jesus at the heart of our own personal lives can we truly serve the Lord in Spirit and Truth.
May God build our house, our Church, our country and our world—and with that hope we await the coming of the Lord!
Your brother in the Lord,