FEASTING ON THE WORD
"If you meditate on the Scriptures it will appear to you in its brilliant splendor." ―St. Pio of Pietrelcina
Fourth Sunday of Advent (B)
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16 | Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29 | Romans 16:25-27 | Luke 1:26-38
We are now on the fourth Sunday of Advent, and as the song goes, it’s beginning to look a lot like Christmas!
Unable to pay rent, jeepney driver Mang Buboy and his family have been living inside a jeepney parked along Blumentritt Street in Manila after he lost his only source of income amid the COVID-19 pandemic. One day someone asked him, “Don’t you wish you had a real home?” Mang Buboy said, “We have a real home. We just don’t have a house to put it in.”
In today's first reading, King David wishes to build a beautiful house for the Ark of the Covenant, and he desires that God's house be as great as his royal dwelling so he consults his court prophet Nathan. Nathan relates to David God's message. In a nutshell, God's message is: You will not build a house for me; I will build a house for you. David is reminded that long before the king had established a capital city for himself in Jerusalem, God was quite at home dwelling in a tent among the people. The God of Israel was their companion in the desert and remained in their midst through the conquest of the new land — with no need for a permanent home built of stone. God chooses a surprising and unexpected dwelling place! God does not want a material building with wooden and stone walls and gold, but a house of persons. The word house implies a dynasty. And from this royal lineage will come the Messiah, the Christ, the Anointed One of God.
The story is told about hearing-and vision-impaired Helen Keller. After her teacher, Anne Sullivan, had given Hellen the names of physical objects in sign language, Ms. Sullivan attempted to explain God and tapped out the symbols for the name "God." Much to Ms. Sullivan's surprise, she spelled back, "Thank you for telling me God's name, Ms. Sullivan, for he has touched me many times before." How could Helen Keller have known about God? It was because although she was blind, deaf and mute, Helen Keller knew God, for God had shown Himself to her. That is “revelation.” God Reveals himself to Us.
The apostle Paul opened the book of Romans with discussion about God’s revelation of a mystery which was kept secret for ages, but is now made known to all nations according to his proclamation of or about Jesus Christ. This is no esoteric gospel, limited to the wealthy, the wise or allies of Malacañan. This is good news for all of humanity. What was secret and hidden has been turned upside down and is now revealed and disclosed. Paul presents to the faithful the promises made and promises fulfilled by God. In his eyes, the entire plan of God which was clear to the people of old – “kept secret” – takes full shape in Jesus.
Ludovico Ang, billionaire tycoon, was visiting a church and was asked to give his testimony. He said, “I have a fine family, twenty large mansions, a successful business empire of ten companies and a good reputation. I have plenty of money so I can support some ministries and outreach program very generously. Various universities and organizations want me on their board of directors. I have good health and almost unlimited opportunities. What more could I ask from God?” As he paused for effect, a voice shouted from the back of the auditorium, “How about asking Him for a good dose of humility?”
In today’s Gospel we hear Gabriel announce to Mary her coming pregnancy. The angel Gabriel is sent not to the Temple nor to the capital city nor to the home of a prominent family, but rather to a simple peasant girl in an obscure town far from the movers and shakers of the Jewish establishment and the Roman occupiers. God chooses a surprising and unexpected dwelling place in the person of Mary! As we prepare to celebrate Christmas this week, today’s Scripture readings offer us the opportunity to hear good news of a God who sets aside respectability in favor of the lowly, the marginalized, and the insignificant. Clearly, God loves to use small things, nothings and nobodies to accomplish big results! <enrique.ofs>
Jeff Jacinto, PhD, DHum