Sunday 24 December 2017
Advent Season of Creation. Fourth Sunday of Advent. Christmas Eve.
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16. Psalm 88(89):2-5, 27, 29. Romans 16:25-27. Luke 1:26-38.
For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord – Psalm 88(89):2-5, 27, 29.
A discerning heart.
One cannot escape the sense of expectation emerging from the readings this week. They reveal to us more details of God’s “plan” to restore relationship with humanity in a manner which respects the human capacity freely to choose right and wrong.
David the king, who for many years has fought militarily for his survival and the unification of his kingdom, is promised that his house will endure as an everlasting kingdom. He who is enjoying a period of peace is asked to build a dwelling place for God. We witness here a window into the way in which God’s redemption is evolving. God works through David’s leadership, although the results will be so much more than anything David could have imagined!
The good we do often goes unnoticed – but its effect lasts way beyond the action itself, even after we have moved on – this is the mark of a true leader, such as the biblical David.
The promise to David finds fulfilment in the angel’s words to Mary in the gospel. Her response is carefully constructed; in our words, she enters into a time of discernment. Can this truly be the will of God for me? As to the true role and identity of the child, she will only learn this as her life, and that of her child, unfold.
Mary eventually discerns that this is indeed a call from God, even though she also would have little appreciation of the result of such a decision. We hear of a sign when she sees her cousin with child – just as the angel had told her. She sees this as confirmation that she has made the right choice.
All of what we see that is wrong in the world that wears us down and makes us feel less human and alive are the results ultimately of human error, that of ourselves, our ancestors and other people. God’s way is to let us know we are loved and valued – his divine hospitality welcomes us even when we do not deserve it. We know so little about Mary but are utterly grateful for her life: she is for us the true leader. With her, we can ask for the Spirit to help us listen and to teach us to discern Gods’ call for us in this never-ending evolution of God’s mission.