Fourth Sunday of Advent
A Homily - Cycle B - 2011-2012
by Fr. Luke Dundon
First Reading - 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Responsorial Psalm - Psalm 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29
Second Reading - Romans 16:25-27
Gospel - Luke 1:26-38
Luke writes to explain that
Christ came to save everyone.
In the sixth month, 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, favored one! 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.
The four candles are lit. And Advent calendar doors are almost all opened. The Christmas cards are written. I’ve sat on Santa’s lap. The thought comes – what are we still waiting around for? Let’s go Christmas! It’s almost here!!! C’mon! That was my thought at seven years of age.
This is me at 30 years of age: The four candles are lit. The Advent calendar doors are opened, if I remembered to open them. The Christmas cards are not quite written. I wouldn’t fit on Santa’s lap, and so my thought now is – what are we waiting around for? Let’s go Christmas! It’s almost here!!! C’mon!
It's a little like when I visited Corpus Christi school yesterday and took the risk of asking the 2nd and 3rd graders, “Are you all ready for Christmas!” I’m thankful to say I still have 50% hearing after their response…
I mean, seriously – we’ve worked hard this Advent. We’ve silenced our hearts and increased our prayer with the Lord. We’ve simplified our lives in order to open our hearts and homes to the coming of the King. We’ve repented of our selfish ways and returned to Him in Confession. We’ve followed John’s instructions and embraced humility so that we can back out of the way and make way for the coming of the King. But at this point in the journey, it’s easy to get tired, a little worn, like the candles on the wreath… we want our Lord to come, we yearn for Him, it’s getting to be time!!! That’s why the next few days are known as the “O Antiphon Days” – O Come, O Come, Emmanuel, O Come, Thou Dayspring from on high, O Come Thou Lord of Might – O Come, O Come, just come!!! So…in the season of gift-giving…couldn’t we just have an early gift, an early perk, ahead of schedule?
Adam certainly thought so – he was given the gift of life, to care for the garden that God made (not Adam!). God had already designed a beautiful kingdom, all for Adam! But, he impatiently wanted more than this garden, and he wanted to reach for it on his own schedule….
We fast-forward a few millennia…King David sits upon his throne…for the first time in years, Israel has relative peace, the people have some stability…the Lord will provide, through His king! But, for David, that isn’t enough…he sees that the Ark of the Covenant, which was like today’s tabernacle back then, needed a grand temple for the Lord, and not in a couple years, but immediately! How does the Lord respond? David, you’re going to build me a house to dwell in? For me, the one who helped destroy your enemies, the one who made you famous over all the earth, the one who fixed a place for you to safely dwell? And you want to build a house for me? Hear this, David – the Lord promises that he will establish a house, in his good time…so you needn’t fear, don’t worry, be patient!
A lesson that never grows old… The Lord made all creation, the Lord made a strong kingdom for His Chosen People, yet we still need to learn how much the Lord is working in our lives, in his own ways and at his own speed…and in so doing, He teaches us patience. Patience which only increases our desire for His coming – the screaming children are a good example! Patience, which eagerly hopes for the Savior’s coming, but is also willing to wait, because we’ve learned that the story of our lives, our ‘history’, is his-story, his magnificent work.
The proof, is in the Gospel…behold how God has been working on his time…and the time has come…to build a new garden? Not really. To finally build a durable temple? Sort of, but never as we would have expected…for what do we see? A young Jewish girl, who doesn’t propose her own schedule or opinions of God’s workings, but rather waits for Him, who now asks for her cooperation. Her answer affects all creation. And so, must the young woman reach out for a fruit, must she furiously start building a new temple for the Ark? No, all she has to do is open her hands and say “yes” – because the one doing the work, as He has done all along, is God. The Holy Spirit will overshadow her and take care of everything, as He has done all along, for this is just the right speed and just the right way to do it – not our way, but God’s way…in His way, in His-story, a new garden will be created through the Virgin Mary, a new temple will be built in her, God’s presence will reside in a new Ark, for her Son, the King, will have a reign that has no end, just as He promised!...wow! Did you see all the furious preparation Mary did to get ready for this moment? I didn’t…but, did you see the answer given by a virgin whose life was patiently open to the Lord’s wondrous workings in her life? That is true desire for God…
God’s promises have been fulfilled, His work has been accomplished, through those who have waited and yearned for His initiative, just as Mary did. Does the Lord still work, on His own time, in our own lives? Is it really worth it to be patient, even when we’re pressed for time? If we want to have the joy in our hearts that I saw at Corpus Christi School, then it is worth it to be patient, because then our hearts will yearn just as much for Christmas, for the Christ, for our Lord and King. The same king who has been working, all along, in every moment of our lives! It’s a story, it’s a love-story, it’s His-story, and we’re a part of it now too…keep those hands and hearts open in prayer…be patient, for what are we waiting around for? We’re waiting for the same one Mary waited for…our hearts burn for you, Lord; come quickly!