Sunday Sermon for December 18, 2011, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B
Readings: 2Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Rom 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38
In the first reading today we hear the beautiful promise that God made to King David about the Lord establishing a house for David and raising up an heir after him whose kingdom would be firm. God would be a Father to the heir and the heir would be a son to the Lord; this house, kingdom and throne would stand forever before God.
We know that on the natural level God did raise up Solomon and the other fifty-one kings after him, but there were so many bad kings (only two were fairly decent) that the kingdom was eventually destroyed and the house of David was a shambles. God’s Word, however, is not fulfilled merely on the natural level and, further, it is fulfilled in ways that we could never begin to imagine.
This is what we see in the Gospel reading when the Angel Gabriel comes to our Lady to ask her to be the Mother of God. He tells her that the Son she would bear would be called the Son of the Most High and that God would give Him the throne of His father, David. It was also revealed that His Kingdom would have no end. So, we see in the announcement of the Angel the three aspects of the promise God had made to David: the house, the Kingdom and the throne.
While Jesus was never established in Israel as the King, we do see Him proclaimed the King at His crucifixion, not only of Israel, but of all of the Jews. From the throne of the Cross He drew all people to Himself and established not only a generic Kingdom, but a House wherein all who are sons and daughters of God are called to dwell. In our Creed we profess that His Kingdom will have no end. Specifically, this means that the Hypostatic Union, the union of the Divine and human natures, will remain forever. By extension, it also means that His Kingship and His dominion are forever and those who choose Him as their King will have nothing to fear in time and in eternity.
The notion of a House is very important because it implies family whereas a kingdom encompasses many people from many families. All are one in Christ; in Him there is no division of any kind. When Nathan told David that God would establish a house for the king, David would naturally have understood this to mean his direct lineage. However, the mystery to which St. Paul refers in the second reading, the mystery of the Gentiles being incorporated into Christ and being coheirs with the Jews, makes everyone who is baptized into Jesus a child of David and a child of God.
After David received the message from Nathan he went to the Temple to pray. He was overwhelmed by the generosity of God and astounded by the promise the Lord had made to him. If he was so dumbfounded by what he would have understood God saying regarding his natural lineage, imagine how amazed he would have been if he had even an inkling of the manner in which God was going to fulfill His promise.
This is important for us to realize as well because God has made great and wonderful promises to us. All too often we forget about what we have been promised, but even when we remember them we tend to downplay them. God will not be outdone in generosity and what He has prepared for those who love Him is beyond our wildest imagination. We need only consider the Gospel reading today and ask yourself if you would have expected that God would become a human baby and, after living a human life, die for you on a cross.
None of us would even imagine these things, but God did them in order to show us His love. Our expectations of God are so small that we must offend Him due to our lack of faith and charity. You are an heir to the promises made to David: part of his house, his kingdom and his throne. In Jesus you are part of the House of God, the Kingdom of God and are seated with Jesus on the Throne of God.
This may sound ridiculous to you. After all, who are we that God would do this for us? Look at the first reading: God took David from the pasture and care of sheep (the lowest profession in that society) to make him King. Look at the Gospel: God, Who is the highest, took the form of a slave and assumed a human nature. The Angel told Mary that nothing will be impossible for God. Think about this as you prepare for Christmas and apply it to yourself.
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.