Fourth Sunday Advent Homily Year B

Fourth Sunday Advent Homily Year B

Reading 1 2 SM 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.”

Responsorial Psalm PS 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29

R. (2a) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
The promises of the LORD I will sing forever;
through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever”;
in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
and establish your throne for all generations.”
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
my God, the Rock, my savior.’
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
and my covenant with him stands firm.”
R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

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.

Alleluia LK 1:38 R. Alleluia, alleluia.
Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.
R. Alleluia, alleluia.

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.

Homily – Fourth Sunday Advent Homily Year B

God’s House, God’s Housemaid

“The Lord will make you a House” (Sam) …

“I am the handmaid of the Lord” (Lk)

            Three stonecutters were involved in building-work. When asked what they Were doing, the first one replied, “I’m breaking stones!” The second answered, “I’m earning a living!” The third exclaimed, “I’m building a house for God!” Like the third stonecutter, in today’s first reading King David desires to build God’s house. But, let’s ask: who really builds whose house? And, ultimately, who is God’s perfect housemaid?

            Moving from the ministry of john the Baptist, today’s liturgy leads us to contemplate the role of Mary in the story of our salvation. Chronologically, putting the annunciation after John’s ministry might seem an error. However, theologically, it’s a significant move, since, while John summarizes the whole of Old Testament prophecies, Mary’s “yes” brings us to the fulfillment of adventic hope.

            The symbol of ‘house’ is significant in the first reading. Since he is living in a palace while the Ark of the Covenant rests in a tent, David tells Prophet Nathan of his desire to build God a house. However, God asks, seemingly sarcastically: “Are you the man to build me a house?” The Bible says that it was David’s son, Solomon – not David – who was chosen to build God’s house (see I Kings 522-5). Yet, reminding David of all the blessings he received, God promises, “The Lord will make you a House.”

            The ‘House’ here does not refer to ‘building’ but to ‘dynasty’. God makes a covenant with David that hiaprogeny will prosper. But, with the destruction of the Davidic monarchy during the Exile, the people interpret God’s promise as pertaining to some future Messiah. ln the New Testament, this Messiah is believed to be Jesus who today’s gospel shows as belonging to the ‘House of David’.

            Today’s psalm (89) is a perfect response to the first reading since it directly deals with Davidic messianic hope: “I have sworn to David my servant; I will establish your dynasty forever.” Truly, Yahweh is faithful to his promises, which will be fulfilled in the fullness of time. Enter Mary.

            Annunciation stories are a literary form of Scripture. The births of Isaac, Samson, Samuel and John the Baptist are announced in advance since they are important figures in the story of salvation. Normally, these births are miraculous ones involving old, barren couples. Today’s annunciation is different. Mary is a young virgin without a husband. Evangelist Luke stresses that a momentous moment is to irrupt in history not through virginal conception per se, but through the power of God ’5 Spirit.

            In Hebrew, ‘house’ is conveyed by the word Shekinah. In Bible history, God’s Shekinah is located and localized in the ‘tent of encounter’ (see Ex 33:7-I l; Num 12:4-8). But now, God’s Shekinah is assuming flesh and blood in the womb of history, within the womb of a Davidic descendent, Mary, who dares to say, “I am the handmaid of God, be it done to me according to your word.”

            Mary is the Shekinah wherein the God man Jesus’ flesh, blood, bones are being formed. Thus, the Marian litany invokes Mary, as “Ark of the Covenant’. Handmaids are housemaids. God’s handmaid, Mary, is God’s housemaid – ever ‘at hand’ to serve others, wholeheartedly housing God’s most perfect Shekinah, Jesus. Our adventic preparation is incomplete without contemplating Mary. Look at her, learn from her, and linger beside her.

            Mary is also mother of Jesus’ historical House, the Church. As God’s Spirit overshadowed her at Jesus’ birth, she prayed that same Spirit to birth her son’s mystical body, the Church (Acts I: 14). Today, we too, Jesus’ sisters and brothers, are God’s houses and housemaids: “temples of the Spirit” (l Cor 6:19). Is our body ready to house Him?

            Very often our houses are destroyed by earthquakes, floods and the like. What about the houses of our bodies destroyed by sin, selfishness, greed, godlessness, pride, pleasure? Oh that we could say, “I’m building God’s house!” and, with Mary, “Be it’ done to this housemaid according to Your will!”

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