23 and 24 December 2017 Fourth Sunday of Advent B Homily
SECOND SAMUEL 7: 1-16
My sisters and brothers in Christ.
The Advent call, cry, prayer “Come Lord Jesus” is about to be
The scriptures today speak about “dwellings” and “indwellings.”
David is brave, bright, handsome, charming, “highly favored.”
Up to this point in his life he has a golden touch and things turn
out his way in an uncanny manner.
David decides to build a “dwelling” for the Lord.
David finds it discomforting that the Lord lives in a tent while he
(David) lives in a house of “cedar.”
The Lord has other plans for David.
The Hebrew word “bayith” means “dwelling” or house.
“Bayith” also means “dynasty.”
David will not build a house for the Lord.
The Lord, we are told, will “establish a house (dynasty) for
The Jewish religion, like many religions, is ambiguous about
building temples, chapels, synagogues, mosques, cathedrals,
basilicas and shrines.
The ambiguity comes from the practical concern over the physical
and financial resources needed to construct and maintain a “house
I do not need to elaborate on the struggle over building and
maintaining a special building in this very special house of
The Lord dwelling in a “tent” seems a much more flexible and
less consuming option than building, heating, cooling and
maintaining a large building.
The tent is open, movable, adaptable but also may be penetrated,
and is vulnerable to any number of “natural” or “man made”
Spiritually speaking, a physical building may tend to localize and
control where the Lord may be found, may be active, may be
What David is promised by the Lord is that the Lord will be
present and “dwell” in David and in his offspring.
David is not permitted to control the movement, dwelling place,
presence or action of the Lord.
The gospel speaks of Mary, apparently alone and most probably in
the inner room of her home. Unmarried women were not seen by
men other than in the presence of their fathers and brothers.
Mary is informed that the Lord would be present, would establish
his dwelling, his “indwelling” not in a stone or wooden dwelling.
The Lord, Mary is told, will “dwell” in her body, in her inner most
place, in her womb.
Mary, being unmarried and not having “relations with a man” asks
“How can this be?”
Mary is informed the Holy Spirit “will come over” her and “the
power of the Most High will overshadow” her.
Mary then will have the protection not of her natural father and
other male family members.
Mary will have the protection of the Lord.
The Lord will “dwell” with and in Mary after she has her child.
God does the “impossible” in the young woman Mary who has not
had “relations with a man” by promising her a son.
God does the “impossible” in the older woman Elizabeth who is
“barren” by giving her a “son in her old age.”
God does the impossible, Paul tells us in the second reading, by
revealing the “mystery”
of the extent,
the limitlessness of God’s desire
to dwell with us,
to save us,
to bring us to himself.
All religions tend to define, circumscribe, place conditions on
Jesus Christ, Paul tells us today,
reveals the mystery,
the secret that:
God seeks to dwell
in all people
and in all peoples.
We say, ask, plead:
“Come Lord Jesus”
Come to dwell with us.
Come to dwell in us.
Come to be all in all.
Come to take us into your Father’s loving care and
form us in his and your loving image.