Commentary of the readings of 4th Sunday in Advent, Year B
Sunday december 20th, 2020
God realises his promise for humanity
Last week we were invited to enter into the joy of Christmas, into faith, hope and Christian charity. Today, the readings of the liturgy invite us to deepen the meaning of this joy: God comes to dwell in his house. The readings of this last Sunday of Advent prepares us to welcome God to enter into his project for the humanity.
Indeed, in the first reading, while David wanted to offer a house to God, the prophet Nathan did not oppose him, even though in truth, between God and David, as always between God and human, God is always the one who is in the position of being the benefactor. It is God who will build a house and fulfill his promise of a dynasty to rule the city and lead his people. It was precisely because of this promise that we began to expect a messiah. And that promise will not be extinguished.
In the second reading, in three verses, Saint Paul shows, as by a fresco, the whole human history and the benevolent plan of God to call us to the faith, which is really obedience in trust. This is the solemn finale of the 16 chapters of Saint Paul's letter to the Romans. From there we can understand well the stake of this 4th Sunday of Advent which announces the marvelous news which will rock all human history, the news of the fulfillment of all the promises of the Old Testament, the news of the very imminent birth of the Messiah. Two main elements of this last Sunday are to be remembered in order to feel close and welcoming to the Good News of Christmas: we are members of the house of God and must have faith in the benevolence of God manifested in Christ.
We are from the house of God
In the first reading, after God's refusal to allow David to build him a home, comes the ancient promise of the earth, but above all a new promise, the one that interests us more particularly today: it is I, says God, who will build you a dwelling. Obviously, you can't imagine God with a trowel in hand. According to Hebrew: the house is the dwelling of God, but we can also say the royal house in the sense of a dynasty. Then, God said: No, you will not build me a house, it is I, God, who will build you a house (in the sense of a dynasty): "The Lord announces to you that he will build for you a house himself. When your days are fulfilled and you rest with your fathers, I will raise up a successor among your descendants, who will be born from you, and I will make his kingdom stable forever. So it was because of this promise that we began to expect a Messiah. “Your house and your kingship will always stand before me” said God. It follows that we can count on the unwavering support of God. From there was born the hope of Israel. Even today the Jewish people wait for him because they know that God is faithful. Let us think of our pending human projects, job application, expectation of a child, of funding, of a situation which must be resolved and let us look at them in the perspective of this expectation of the messiah who is near and let us remain in the hope of their achievements.
Having faith in the benevolence of God
Faced with all the announcements of the Angel, the response of the Virgin is extraordinarily simple! We can say that “this is a fine example of "obedience in faith". As Saint Paul said, it is precisely total trust. Mary takes up the word of all the great believers since Abraham: "Here I am"; Mary simply responds: “I’m the handmaid of the Lord; let everything happen to me according to your will. It is the free availability to the benevolent plan of God. It is enough to say "Yes", because "Nothing is impossible with God". Thanks to this "yes" from the young girl of Nazareth, "The Word becomes flesh and he comes to dwell among us"; here resound the luminous promise of Zephaniah which announced the coming of God in the midst of his people: "Shout for joy, daughter of Zion!" Burst into ovations, Israel! Rejoice, with all your joyful heart, daughter of Jerusalem! ... The King of Israel, the Lord, is in you. ”(So 3, 14-15).
We are the dwell of God
At the Annunciation, God comes to visit the house of a singular and special person: Mary. He will stay with her, live in her. God makes his home among humans, in each of us. At baptism, God comes to dwell in us. Like the Virgin Mary, we have to welcome him and make him live and reign in us. The dwelling place of God among us is above all the heart and soul of every Christian who says yes to his baptism and opens himself to the action of the Holy Spirit in him. Saint Paul will say that our body is the temple of the Holy Spirit. And it’s by that spirit we must think, live and act. Through the sacraments of Christian initiation: Baptism, Eucharist and Confirmation, we make our person the house of God. Sometimes we tend to forget this wonder which is renewed every day by the bread and the wine offered to renew our force. God is in my heart and lives in a community, but it is also necessary that there is a place to pray and meet him, regardless of the architecture, no matter if the church is Gothic, Romanesque or concrete, or a meeting room. The important thing is that the house is inhabited and alive. We have to remind every day that God in Christ, by his word and his sacrament live always in me forever. Let God live in us to realize for us and with us his happiness project.
We can then make this prayer of Saint John Eudes very personal and invite Jesus to come and live in us.
O Jesus, living in Mary, Come and live in Your servants, in the holiness of Your Spirit, in the fullness of Your Strength, in the perfection of Your Ways, in the truth of Your Virtues, in communion with Your Mysteries. Come and master the enemy, in Your Holy Spirit, for the glory of the Father. Amen.