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Fourth Sunday – Year B – Advent
Readings: 2 Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Rom 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38.
Reading 1 (2 Sam 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.”
Reading 2 (Rom 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 (Lk 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,
and 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.
I. THEME: God “builds a house” for people.
After we have been locating our goal, preparing and rejoicing to welcome Christ in last three Sundays, the Liturgy of the Word of this week leads us to God’s plan of salvation which is beyond our imagination and exceeds our human understanding. God, though He has unlimited power and undescribed strength, chose to live among people, not in a tent as during the Israelites’ journey in the desert, but incarnated in the Blessed Virgin Mary’s womb in order to be born and to live among people.
In the first reading, due to king David’s eagerness and gratitude, he would like to build a house for the ark of God. He didn’t realize that the whole world can’t contain God. God revealed to him that it is not him who shall build God’s house; but it is God who shall build the house for David, his descendants, the Israelites and all nations. In the second reading, God’s plan of salvation though was hidden from past generations; but gradually revealed through prophets, and clearly revealed by Christ to all nations, not only to the Israel. In the Gospel, Luke the evangelist reported the summit of this plan through the Annunciation when the Messiah, the Son of God, wanted to incarnate in Virgin Mary’s womb in order to dwell in the midst of people.
1/ Reading I: King David wanted to build a house for God; but it is God who shall build a house for David.
1.1/ King David wanted to build a house for God: In all the kings of Israel, none is more important and well known than David. God’s hand was with David in all important events: God helped David to win over Goliath, Philistines’ warrior (1 Sam 17); to destroy Philistines’ trick (1 Sam 27); to unite all the twelve tribes of Israel and to win over a very well protected city, Jerusalem (2 Sam 5:6-12); to get the challenged gift in order to marry with Michal, Saul’s daughter (1 Sam 18:20-29). It is not a surprise when we read in today passage: “Now when the king dwelt in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies round about, the king said to Nathan the prophet, “See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent.” And Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that is in your heart; for the Lord is with you.””
God dwelt in the tent from the time He liberated the Israelites from the slavery land of Egypt. Tent is a dwelling place of nomadic people, though it is not solid but easy to move to any place. God chose to dwell in the tent to be always present with the Israelites, to protect them in their journey in the desert, and to guide them to overcome all obstacles in their journey. When the Israelites reached the Promise Land and settled down, king David wanted to build a firm and worthy house for God to dwell.
1.2/ It is God who shall build “the house” for David: “But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan, “Go and tell my servant David, `Thus says the Lord: Would you build me a house to dwell in? Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David, `Thus says the Lord of hosts, I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep, that you should be prince over my people Israel; and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.”
God promised to king David that He shall do three following things:
(1) “I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth.” As said above, king David is the most well-known king in Jewish history.
(2) “I will appoint a place for my people Israel, and will plant them, that they may dwell in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and violent men shall afflict them no more, as formerly.” After they entered the Promise Land, the Israelites gradually had a legal land to settle down.
(3) “I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. And your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.’” “House” means David’s descendants; they shall continually govern Israel until the Messiah is born, he shall also come from David’s lineage.
All these things happened due to God’s power. Though David was not permitted to build a house for God, but king Solomon, his son, shall build the first Temple for God to dwell.
2/ Reading II: God’s plan of salvation was revealed to men.
God had His plan of salvation right from the beginning of human history, because He knew people shall sin because they don’t know how to use their given freedom. According to this plan, God shall choose and train a selected people; that is the Israelites. From Israel and David’s lineage, the Messiah shall come to redeem people from their sins. When the Messiah fulfills God’s plan of salvation, all people in the world and at all times can inherit God’s salvation.
The mystery of salvation was hidden from past generation: Though God’s plan of salvation was planned by God from the beginning; but none knew this plan unless God gradually revealed it through prophets, and clearly revealed through Christ, the Son of God. St. Paul reported these words to his Roman faithful: “According to the revelation of the mystery which was kept secret for long ages but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith — to the only wise God be glory for evermore through Jesus Christ! Amen.”
The Jews themselves, though they are God’s people, also didn’t understand this mystery. Many Jews think that they are the only people who are deservedly inherited God’s salvation; all the Gentiles shall be destroyed. Many of them don’t accept Jesus is the Messiah and they are still looking for the Messiah. After Jesus Christ completed his mission in the world, many of the Gentiles were heard of the Good News. If they believed in Christ and God’s plan of salvation, they shall also inherit salvation which God has planned for them right from the beginning. That is the Good News which St. Paul wanted to announce to his faithful: “but is now disclosed and through the prophetic writings is made known to all nations, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith.”
3/ Gospel: The angel Gabriel announced to Virgin Mary.
3.1/ The encounter between heaven and earth: The summit of God’s plan of salvation is the coming of the Messiah, starting with today Annunciation. None can understand a powerful God, who created all things and has power on all creation, comes to one of His creature, Mary, to ask for His Son to be incarnated in her womb. The evangelist Luke reported the Annunciation as follows: “In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent from God to a city of Galilee named Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” But she was greatly troubled at the saying, and considered in her mind what sort of greeting this might be. And the angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God.””
3.2/ The mystery of salvation was revealed: The angel Gabriel talked about the child which is about to be born as follows: “And behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus. He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his father David, and he will reign over the house of Jacob for ever; and of his kingdom there will be no end.” This is the third promise which the prophet Nathan announced to king David in the first reading. The only strange and unexpected thing about the child is, though he was the son of the Most High but belonged to David’s lineage through Joseph, his adopted father.
3.3/ The reaction of Blessed Virgin Mary: Due to her vow of virginity, Mary asked the angel Gabriel: “How shall this be, since I have no husband?” Mary’s vow of virginity pleased God because He wants His Son to be incarnated in such an immaculate and pure womb. Moreover, the prophet Isaiah also foretold about this (parthenos, Isa 7:14).
Mary, as many of us, questioned God according to human understanding: How can one be pregnant and still be a virgin? We forget about God’s power that He can do all things. The angel Gabriel explained to Mary God’s way: “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, your kinswoman Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month with her who was called barren. For with God nothing will be impossible.”
After listening the angel’s explannation, the Virgin Mary said to him: “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord; let it be to me according to your word.” And the angel departed from her.
III. APPLICATION IN LIFE:
– Out of His immense love, God always wants to dwell among men to teach, to console, to guide and to bestow many blessings on them. In order to possess Him, we need to prepare for Him a worthy place, not only in a magnificent and firm church, but also in a tent which is our human body.
– The mystery of salvation was prepared by God and began with the Israelites; but God’s salvation is not limited in this nation. God wants us to proclaim the Good News and to bring salvation to all people.
– We can draw plans for our life; but when God wants us to change our plan and to do His will, we must be humble to listen, ready to change our will, and eagerly to do His will as king David and the Blessed Virgin Mary.