Homily from Father Alex McAllister SDS
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Posted for December 21, 2014
We have now come to the last Sunday of Advent and we are in the immediate preparations for Christmas. Each year Christmas seems to come around quicker and quicker and it is as if Advent hardly lasts any time at all.
Perhaps we have become over preoccupied with the practical preparations for Christmas, but we should be careful not to let ourselves to become so distracted that we neglect to prepare ourselves to celebrate this season in a truly spiritual way.
Actually the Readings today help us to properly prepare for Christmas and on this last Sunday of Advent they are extremely interesting.
The first reading is about King David who is the most famous of the Kings of Israel. We remember how his predecessor King Saul lost favour in the eyes of God and we recall how the Prophet Samuel then chose David, the youngest of Jesse’s sons, and anointed him as Saul’s successor. From that moment David grew from being an insignificant shepherd boy to a man of great stature.
We recall how he killed the giant Goliath by hitting him on the forehead with a stone from his sling. As a result Saul made David commander of his armies and gave him his daughter Michal in marriage. We remember too David’s famous friendship with Saul’s son Jonathan.
When both Saul and Jonathan died in battle David was then proclaimed King. He made Jerusalem his capital and took the Ark of the Covenant to reside there. As we heard in our first reading David had a great desire to build a temple for the Lord in Jerusalem; but the Prophet Nathan tells him that he is not to build a house for God to dwell in, but instead God would build a house for him. By this he means that God would grant David a great family of descendants; we call this the House of David.
We Christians have always considered ourselves to be part of David’s house and line, not through direct biological lineage like the Jews but through a deep spiritual lineage. It remains very important that Jesus himself can directly trace his ancestors back to King David because it was firmly believed that the Messiah was to be a Son of David.
Since we are the spiritual descendants of Jesus we regard ourselves as being spiritual descendants of King David too.
According to the Jewish people the coming Messiah would incorporate many of the best characteristics of King David and his rule would unite the People of Israel and inaugurate a time of universal peace and brotherhood.
Of course, we now see how the Kingdom of God as inaugurated by Jesus Christ goes far beyond anything the Jewish people could have conceived. Christ’s is no purely earthly Kingdom but is one which unites heaven and earth as well as past, present and future.
Ultimately the Kingdom of God is all the people of the earth from all the ages gathered in worship around God’s throne.
In the Gospel reading we are told the story of the Annunciation as given to us by Luke the Evangelist. We hear the story of how the Angel Gabriel announces to Mary that she is to be the mother of the Son of God. We hear too how Mary agrees to this divine proposal in her most beautiful words, ‘I am the handmaid of the Lord, let what you have said be done to me.’
The Church places these two readings from scripture before us today because there is a very strong link between them.
It is understandable that David wants to build a temple for the Lord but he is told that this is not to be his task. It is a role eventually given to his son Solomon who constructs a fabulous temple in Jerusalem, but his Temple only lasts about four hundred years and was in fact completely demolished by Nebuchadnezzar, the King of Babylon. A second temple was built after the Jewish people returned from exile in Babylon, but this in turn was destroyed by the Romans in 70AD and was never rebuilt.
The lesson we have to draw is that these earthly temples, while being important places of worship in their day, were essentially material constructions. What we realise is that God cannot be housed in a world of his own creation. As an entirely spiritual entity God cannot be contained within four walls. God exists completely outside time and space; it is he who gives shelter to the world and not the world which gives shelter to God.
This brings us to Mary and to the account of her Annunciation. After many generations it is she who gives a home to the Son of God in her womb. This is a role for which she is specially chosen and prepared by God. It is she who becomes the real temple, the dwelling place of God’s only Son.
As we have seen God exists entirely outside the material world and yet he chooses to occupy the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary in order to achieve his purposes, namely our salvation.
Mary is prepared for this unique task through her Immaculate Conception so that she could be free from sin and worthy enough to carry Christ in her womb. Moreover, the special graces given to her enabled her to be preserved from sin throughout her life.
We too become sharers in this great mystery because God sends his Spirit into our hearts and so lives within us. This is one of the ongoing results of the outpouring of the Holy Spirit that occurred on the first Pentecost day.
As we were taught as children, this makes us Temples of the Holy Spirit. This wonderful gift helps us each one of us to live grace filled lives and to be faithful to the message of Jesus Christ, our Lord.
We see now how the two readings link up. We see why David was commanded not to build a temple; we see how Mary herself became the true temple and indeed we see too how we ourselves share in this great gift to the world.
This is the last Sunday before Christmas; it marks an important stage in our preparation for the Feast of the Nativity.
It is a day on which we reflect on the great span of history involved in preparing for Christ’s coming into our world. It is a day on which we come to a greater realisation of Mary’s particular role in God’s plan for the salvation of the world. It is a day which reminds us how deeply we too are involved in in this plan and how intimately we are connected to Christ and to his Mother Mary.
Digest of Articles from Catholics Blogs and Websites
December 21, 2014
Fourth Sunday in Advent, Year B—December 21, 2014
On this last Sunday in Advent, an angel startles a young woman in Nazareth. What was old, and what was new in his message to her?
Gospel (Read Lk 1:26-38)
How many times have we heard this Scripture read? If it is very familiar to us, we should make the effort to hear it now with fresh ears. Perhaps we can do that by trying to imagine what it was like for Mary to have this conversation with Gabriel as it happened in history.
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Luke 1: 26–38
On the carefully programmed Advent journey to Christmas, the Fourth Sunday belongs to Mary. This is so because Christmas, which celebrates the birth of Jesus, necessarily involves the motherhood of Mary. However, the story of that birth is reserved for Midnight Mass, while today’s gospel tells us how Mary prepared for that wonderful event by accepting the message of an angel, which meant allowing God to determine how she could be a mother and remain a virgin.
Fourth Sunday of Advent: The Everlasting Desire
As the whole world prepares to celebrate Christmas, making believe that the Christmas Season has started (It hasn’t yet, you know), I want to pause with you to consider the real need, the real desire we all have in our lives. This need, this deep desire is the need for the presence of God.
The need for God’s presence in my life, and in all our lives becomes quite obvious when we consider the power of sin within us and among us. There are times when, as St. Paul says in the Letter to the Romans, the forces of darkness appear to domineer us. “Who can save us from these, who can save us from ourselves?” St. Paul asks. Then he answers, “The grace, presence and life of Jesus Christ alone can save us.” His very name, Jesus, means, God saves us. He saves us from our sins. He saves us from ourselves.
Prepare Well for Christ – Advice for family preparation for Christmas
Christmas marks God entering time in a new, distinct way — in a way that fulfills all of his promises to his people to be with them and to save them. He chose to come through a family, and he invites all people to be a part of that family. “But when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman … so that we might receive adoption” (Galatians 4:4).
Year after year, Christmas offers families a season to renew the sense of wonder at the way God entered time. How will families allow him to enter their Christmastime this year? Catholic families should use the season to regroup, renew and revitalize their faith.
Run, Don’t Walk, to the Nearing Jesus!
The Lord’s coming is near. And though we have all been well taught that the word “Advent” means “coming,” there is the danger that we think we are only passively waiting for him to come. It is not just that the Lord is coming to us, but that we are also journeying to Him. In fact, as the Advent prayers in the Roman Missal instruct, we ought to run, not walk, and hasten to greet Him as He draws near.
Persevering Through Suffering This Advent
A while ago, I asked a woman what I could pray about for her, and her response was pretty memorable. She asked me to pray for her to suffer with Christ — to suffer well, and that her suffering may be used to bring her loved ones closer to Him.
I didn’t know that she was suffering, but if I did, I would have probably thought to pray for her — that she might be relieved of that suffering and that her burdens would become lighter.
And yet, instead of asking for relief, she asked for the graces to suffer well — so that she may be united with Christ on the Cross, and so her loved ones would, too, be drawn closer to Him.
The War on Christmas is over. Jesus won.
Kirk Cameron can breathe easy: the War on Christmas is over. Jesus won.
That’s the implication of a new Pew Research Center survey that finds nearly three-quarters of Americans — 73 percent — believe that Jesus was literally born to a virgin. This is especially surprising when you consider that only one third of Americans say that the Bible is the word of God and should be understood literally.
Waiting in Joyful Hope
Advent is a tricky little season. On the one hand it’s a kind of “little Lent” inviting Christians to enter into the hush and mystery of God – God! – becoming a tiny baby boy, laid in a manger where animals eat and birthed in conditions no first-world woman would consider laboring in.
On the other hand, it’s the last 4 weeks before Christmas, the end of the calendar year, and jam-packed with more parties, social obligations, and family traditions than the previous eleven months combined.
Confessions of a Publicly Grumpy Mom
Milk and toothpaste. That’s all that was left on my shopping list as I maneuvered myself, two shopping carts (one of the race car variety) and my five youngest sons toward the back of our local supermarket. The oldest boy was big enough to push a cart, only occasionally racing down an aisle or bumping into the back of my ankles. Thus far I had managed to avoid the restroom rodeo: that business of holding open the men’s room door and shouting into the abyss of strange men and hand dryer noises to get my boys to come out while keeping my aspiring-shopping-cart-diver three year old from jumping head first toward the tile floor.
How much of Mass can I miss? You know, and it still counts?
Second only to questions on annulments, the above question—How much of Mass can I miss and it still counts for my obligation?— is probably the single the most common canonical question lay people ask.
Confession! What a Relief!
My bride and I just went to Confession, and once again I pitied the poor priest who had to hear my lawyer’s confession! I have never been to Confession without feeling a great sense of relief.
Here is the formula that I have followed for Confessions since childhood:
Bless me Father for I have sinned, it has been ____________ since my last Confession and these are my sins.
I then recite my sins. I follow the rule of three B’s in Confession:
Getting Ready for Judgment
December is the month of Advent and Advent is about not just the First Advent at Christmas but the Second Advent on the Last Day. Accordingly, it confronts us with the reality of Judgment.
Lots of folks wonder how to get ready for the Last Judgment. Everything in your life and mine, as well as in all the rest of the Universe, is moving inexorably toward That Day. Yet when we look at the saints, we find some remarkably unconventional advice. St. Therese of Lisieux, for instance, when asked what she would do if you knew the world was about to end, said, “I would have confidence.”