B Cycle – 4th Sunday in Advent 17

                                                      2 Sam. 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

David a man after God’s own heart is one of the most interesting figures in the scriptures.  Chosen by God from among Jesse’s sons to become King of Israel and to lead his people to a place where at last they finally were at peace as God had promised. We see and hear in our first reading today from Samuel how David wants to honor God by building a permanent house for the Ark of the Covenant. David expressed this desire to Nathan the prophet saying it is not right that he should be living in a palace while God is dwelling in a tent?

You know the scriptures are God’s revelation of himself and they provide us a roadmap for responding to God. So as we listen to David’s desire to build a house for God we have to be looking beyond David to the message given to us in this story.  I believe we are being given a picture of our own desire to honor God. David’s desire to build God a temple worthy of his power and might is so like us.  We love the trappings of elegant churches filled with eye catching arches, marble, glittering gold and a beautiful sanctuary.  After all, this is how we honor God by making sure his house reflects his majesty.

Yet some of the most vibrant, active communities of faith I have belonged to in my life have been in churches that were simple in architecture and decoration.  The environment created as the community worshiped was one of love, appreciation and thanksgiving for the gift of Jesus Christ.  If you think about it that was exactly what God was saying in his response to David. God words reminded David and us that it is not what we build for him but it is about how we allow God to build us into a temple where his Spirit dwells – living stones as Peter tells us being built into a spiritual house.

The answer of God to Nathan as David expresses his desire to honor God by building something more fitting the King of Kings is a message not only to David but to us.  The God who created the entirety of the universe said, “Should you build me a house to dwell in?”  Then he goes on and details all he has done for David since his first being anointed by Samuel.  Not only does he tell of what he did for David he tells of what he has done for all the people he has called his own.

David’s reasoning of why he wanted to build God a house goes far beyond who God is and how omnipotent he is.  It is a false reasoning because God response is clear in that we need to know God beyond the basic tenets of our faith. It is that kind of faith that leads us to honor God by external things and in doing do we miss out experiencing his love.  We need to know God in a way that allows him to work in our lives according to his plan and his will.  We tend to restrict God’s ability to work within us by not allowing God to go beyond certain parameters of our lives based on who we believe God to be.

The metaphor of building God a house is symbolic with our putting God within a box and restricting God’s interaction with us within the boundaries of the box we allow him to exist.

The problem with a palace is that you cannot ever be comfortable and be yourself because there are certain rules of decorum we must follow.  We must remember the first shelter of our God was a stable not a palace.  God desires to dwell in our hearts not in our buildings which is where many of us leave him after we do our duty of attending mass.  We must hear those words to us reminding us how God is with us always and is constantly revealing himself and his plan for our lives.  God is not just present to us in church, in the Eucharist or in his word. God desires to have us feel his presence each and every day.  Think of what that opens for us and if you have no imagination you only need to listen to his interaction with Mary in today’s gospel to see how this desire of God works for us.

He sent an angel to greet her and to speak to her heart.  When was the last time you heard some emissary of God speaking to your heart? Most of you will say never and that is sad for you are missing out on a wonderful experience.  You are missing a key plan of God to build an intimate relationship with you. That greeting of the angel to Mary is exactly how God sees us – full of Grace.  If you don’t believe that you are filled with Grace you have missed a spiritual truth that begins with God’s love, continues with Mary’s yes and is fulfilled with the birth and death of Jesus.  If you do not believe this is a spiritual truth about your holiness then you truly have only allowed God to exist in the box you have put him in.

The entire reason of Jesus birth and death was to restore our grace and our glory by removing the barrier of sin between ourselves and God.  If you cannot accept this spiritual truth then there is nothing more I can say that will allow you to unleash the love of God he desires to pour into your heart. However, if you desire like David to build a house for God then you have enough faith to allow God’s love to show you how he can change your heart.

It is in believing and trusting that God desires to restore your glory that allows us experience the depth of God’s love for us.  Mary trusted even though her mind could not grasp the concept of how she was to conceive a son when she had never had any sexual relationship with any man.  She removed the box where her mind told her this promise was impossible but by yielding to God she allowed it to happen.  God’s promise became a reality in her life and he desires to do in us what he did to her that day – allow his son to become alive within us and for us to bring him to life for others.

Tomorrow we will look upon an infant and remind ourselves and the world that this dependent infant is the God who desires us to be dependent on him.  He will never be in a palace but he does reign as Lord of all and especially desires to be Lord of our lives.  God is giving you a gift wrapped up in swaddling clothes. Unwrap this gift of Christ and embrace him and say yes to him. Invite him to be God and to speak to your heart as he desires to reveal his will for you.

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