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Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent

We are on the threshold of Christmas wonder, a mere turn of the page away from our celebration of the birth of the Christ. However, the readings for this Fourth Sunday of Advent call upon us to reflect on God’s messages to King David, and to a young girl named Mary. The responses of these two people, to their encounter with God, can help guide us, as we prepare to commemorate one of the deepest mysteries of our faith. King David has a brilliant idea: “Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the Ark of God dwells in a tent.” Most people agree with King David, but from Heaven comes God’s rebuke: “Is it you,” says God, “who would build me a house to dwell in?” It is true that David is King of Israel, “a man after God’s own heart,” but even a King needs a reminder of who is really King and who is really servant. King David is humbled by Israel’s true King.

Meanwhile, far away in another part of town, a thousand years after King David's brilliant idea, God’s messenger brings “glad tidings” to a youthful girl. This young girl, named Mary, along with King David, helps us to understand the massive responsibility that a divine message carries. David hopes to build a house, a suitable dwelling place for God. Mary becomes the mother of a child, “called Holy, the Son of God.” David is humbled by his presumption of greatness, whereas Mary’s humble “yes,” brings her the “favor” of becoming the chosen “ark” of God’s Son. It is of course Mary, by contrast, who provides us with the disposition we need to complete our understanding of this Advent Season.

This young girl will allow the mystery of the Emmanuel to unfold as it will in her life, without conditions. “May it be done to me according to your Word,” she says. Mary, the mother of the Holy Child, has taught all generations how to respond to God’s wondrous mystery.

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