Monday, 12 December 2011

4th Sunday of Advent - Year B

2 Samuel 7:1-5.8-12.14.16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

As Christmas approaches what troubles you most about the world? About our culture? About your family? About yourself? As a year comes to a close and a new year begins, what troubles you most about the future? We all have plans for the future. Our anxiety about the future is that something is going to come along and wreck our plans.

Today’s readings tell us one very important thing. God has plans for us and nothing will wreck his plans. The way to real peace in our hearts is to make God’s plan our own; to make a conscious decision to relinquish our own plans for our life and to let God’s plan rule. As the Lord’s Prayer says: Thy will be done.

King David conceived what he thought was a wonderful plan; he was going to build a house for the Lord to dwell in. He had it all worked out.

God hears of David's wonderful plan; he is aghast: It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. And I will make you famous

Will you build me a House? No! If there’s any building to be done, it will be done by me!

If God does not build the house, in vain do the builders toil… (Ps 127:1)

God's plan is to build David into an everlasting house, a house which will stand for ever; a house from which will be born the Messiah.

You see how our plans are nothing beside those of the Lord. They say that if you want to make God laugh, tell him your plans.

God has a Master Plan which began with creation and was first revealed to us in the Garden of Eden; a plan of salvation involving a Woman and her Offspring. We see this plan swing into action with the opening words of today’s gospel: The angel Gabriel was sent by God… .

Sent by God – yes, it is truly his plan – and as we listen we hear it unfold for us: You are to conceive and bear a son, and you must name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High. The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the house of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end.

You are to conceive … you must name him .. he will be great … he will be called … the Lord God will give him the throne … he will rule .. his reign will have no end. Do you recognise the sharpness and clarity of the angel’s message? Do you sense the non-negotiable, unstoppable, irresistible thrust of God’s plan?

The Holy Spirit will come upon you … and the power of the Most High will cover you with its shadow. And so the child will be holy and will be called Son of God.

As it was promised, so it will be, and so it is. Truly, nothing is impossible to God.

And so we read: The angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David; and the virgin's name was Mary.

Lots of proper nouns here – Gabriel, God, Galilee, Nazareth, Joseph, David, Mary – a plan foreknown and prepared before anything was created; realised in time, and set in the mortar  of obedient love.

Mary’s plan had been to live a single life in the service of God but she immediately yielded to his plans: I am the handmaid of the Lord … let what you have said be done to me.

Mary’s womb becomes a Temple more beautiful and lasting than any Temple we could possibly build; God’s plan is always a living plan, constructed from the lives of his children.

In the face of newspaper headlines which daily threaten disaster and doom we should rejoice that there exists for us the possibility of throwing away our finite and fragile plans and surrendering to the beautiful and eternal plan of the Almighty.

Let us not forget the words of St Paul: and you too, in him, are being built into a house where God lives, in the Spirit (Eph 2:22).

And again: there is a house built by God for us, an everlasting home not made by human hands, in the heavens (2 Cor 5:1).

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