Friday, December 19, 2014

Homily (2) Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Homily (2) Fourth Sunday of Advent Year B: Fr. Michael U. Udoekpo

Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12, 14a,16; Ps 89:2-5, 27, 29; Rom 16:25-27 and Luke 1:26-38

    What God Has Promised Us would be fulfilled!

 Today Marks the fourth and the final week of Advent before Christmas. The Spirit of these four weeks of preparing for Christmas is a spirit of expectation and great hope in God’s promises. What God promised us: protection, love, peace,  security, joy, good health of mind and body, success in what we do, everlasting covenant, and eternal happiness, would be fulfilled.  This is true in today’s Bible Lessons, especially in the stories of David, and those of Our Mother Mary. They are great stories for life’s lessons.

 In  the first reading (2 Sam 7), David the great, great grandfather of Jesus, after he had fought and consolidated power in Jerusalem, had wanted to build a house for the Lord, where he could place the Ark of the Covenant, a physical divine presence in the community. David went to bed. But that night, as God would do his things mysteriously, he reverses David’ plan through Nathan, the prophet. God would rather build a house for David. He promised David, an everlasting dynasty. Note, an everlasting dynasty here, is much more than a physical house.

It is an everlasting promise of love, kindness, peace, joy, goodness, good-health of mind and body, faithfulness, acknowledged in the responsorial of today; “forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord… the promise of the lord I will sing forever”!

 In the 2nd reading, Romans 16 Saint Paul testifies to the fulfillment of this promise in the person of Christ, whose Gospel he preaches. Paul says, “to him who can strengthen you, according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages, but now manifested through the prophetic writings, and according to the command of eternal God..” (Rom 16:25-27).

 The Gospel makes it clearer that those promises made us in the beginning through David would be fulfilled, through Mary!  A young Jewish woman, betrothed to Joseph, still a virgin, is miraculously visited by the Angel Gabriel, who promised her a child: “behold you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus” Mary said how can this be since I am still a virgin. The Angel explains to her that “God is control,” the story we are familiar with.  At the end of her encounter with the  Angel, Mary humbly surrenders herself  to the divine providence, saying, “I am the Handmaid of the Lord (your servant) be it done to be according to your word.”

 Granted that the spirit of Advent reminds us of the need to be close to Mary during this time when she is carrying her child, Jesus; Mary, like David is a good example to us in many ways; especially to us today, who have heard this stories over and over again. She is an example of an ideal disciple.  We can think of our Christian life as a longer Advent. Mary is a disciple, willing to love, willing to forgive, willing to serve.  She is a gift to us. She becomes that simple vehicle through which historic royal theology and God’s mysteries and promises are fulfilled in Christ, come Christmas.

 She listens and accepts the message of the Angel Gabriel sent by God. She dialogues freely with Gabriel. She is not violent. She is not argumentative, but ponders. She is reflective. She is not arrogant. She does not claim to know more than God and the Angel. She is opened to the prompting of the Holy Spirit, over the mysteries of the one who will rule over the house of David. Even though David had plans to build a house for the Lord, eventually built by his son, Solomon, David lived through the mysteries of God communicated to him through Nathan!

 David, and especially Mary, I believe are great examples of how we can, in our different life-situations, respond to God’s mysteries and divine command.  David was attentive to Prophet Nathan. He gave up his plan of building a physical house. Mary on the other hand responded with complete humility, trust and faith in whatever God had in stock for her. How we respond to Scriptures, what the Church teaches, our parents, teachers and God-fearing leaders, counts.

 Our Christian life, sometimes could be seen as a longer Advent, hoping and trusting, all the way, in the promises made to  us by the Lord. Even though we may have our own plans, Advent, particularly the Bible Lessons of today allow us to follow God's final plan. Therefore, as Christmas approaches, we are invited to imitate Mary’s gifts, and renew our trust in the Lord. We are invited to contemplate the virtues of Mary, her dialogue and reactions to Angel Gabriel. We  are encouraged to  make our homes, churches, dioceses,  schools, seminaries, religious communities, offices, places of work “Schools of Mary” and “Colleges of Virtues”, where we  sing God’s promises, and trust  at all times in the love, joy, security, and peace which the Lord had promised  us, in the beginning, since the time of David.