Sunday Homily, December 20, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent, Cycle B
By Fr. Claude Perera, OMI

Theme: Royal Messiah. Son of David, the Just One                                                                                    

Readings:

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16
The Promise to David that His Dynasty will endure forever

Responsorial Psalm:
Psalm 89:2-5,27,29 – Praising God for the Faithfulness to His Covenant

Second Reading:
Romans 16:25-27 – Praising God for His Gift of Revelation

Gospel Reading:  Luke 1:26-38 – The Annunciation to Mary

Background to the Readings

Having united the tribes of Israel and established the monarchy, David felt bad that he was living in a luxurious palace, while there was no glorious temple for God. For still God’s dwelling was the Ark of the Covenant. But God made known to David through Nathan the Prophet that God did not need such a temple. Instead, he revealed the plan that in the future God will raise up the Davidic dynasty through his descendants. The people Israel will live securely without being oppressed by enemies and his son will build a temple for God. God’s faithful love will never be withdrawn from him and that his dynasty and its sovereignty will stand firm forever. The Davidic dynasty will be God’s true house. All the same, David’s son will build a palace for God. This was the kind of prophecy we heard in the first reading. But the realization of this promise was always in jeopardy as most of the successors of Davida were much below the standards expected of Davidic kings. In general. What pervaded was anarchy and turmoil that haunted the lands of Israel and Judah. So, God’s people kept entertaining the expectation of that Royal Messiah to establish justice, hoping against hope.


In the gospel of today, you heard the realization of that hope as announced by the Angel Gabriel to Mary. Referring to the Royal Messiah to be born, the angel said, “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 forever and his reign will have no end.”
In the context of the people of Israel, what was the central role of the institution of royalty? The king was expected to be the bearer of the covenant. That means that the king had to be the first to observe the stipulations of the covenant. If he kept the covenant, people also kept it. Its negation also functioned similarly. What was the foundation of the covenant? It was justice or righteousness, called •Ədkh in Hebrew, dikaiosun in Greek. Justice or righteousness was basically a moral concept related to the covenant. It referred to the divinely established moral order, harmony, and integrity which the covenanting parties were expected to observe. As God was obviously righteous, the people were also expected to be righteous. This moral integrity needed to be reflected in all the relationships of the people, be it regarding their relationship to God, to their neighbour, to the rest of creation and even within one’s own self.


In this regard, I like to take you to the entrance antiphon of today’s mass which reads in Latin, “ Rorate caeli de super – Et nubes pluant justum.” – “Drop down dew, ye heavens, from above, and let the clouds rain down the Just One.” This is how the Medieval Church awaited and celebrated the arrival of the Messiah, the just one. This used to be the Advent hymn sung by Medieval Christians during their Advent masses. This was sung by them early in the morning in candle-light since it was still dark as they gathered in their churches. This was a penitential hymn which emphasized in the fact that people have sinned, and therefore, invoking God’s forgiveness. This hymn gives expression to the throbbing of the heart of the Medieval Christians, poor, lowly and simple as they were. They forgave each other and shared the little they had with the needy. They did a good confession in Advent. Thus, they worthily prepared themselves for the coming feast of the Nativity.


We are preparing to host the Just One. In terms of the forthcoming Christmas, our Advent preparation must be one of becoming morally integral. Our complex web of relationships in their four-fold functions need a transformation. Where our relationships, duties and obligations have been overlooked or forgotten, we need to repair them. Otherwise, it becomes a Christmas without God, without our needy neighbour etc. in an unjust world. Such a Christmas is no true Christmas. Such Christmas has been bereft of his essence. It is instead a mere noisy celebration of eating, drinking and fashion displaying on account of Jesus, the Just One sent by God’s establish his justice on earth.

Happy Christmas! Joyeux Noel! Buon Natale! Froliche Weihnachten! Fijne Kerst! Feliz Navidad! Feliz Natal! Wesołych Świąt! Sretan Božić! Shubha Naththalak! Mahilchiyana Kristhumas!Krisamas Kee Shubhakaamana!

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