Reflecting on the house of the LORD that you have built in your heart

Homily for December 24, 2017 (4th Sunday of Advent)
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Psalm 89; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

What you do if a rich and powerful ruler offered to build you a house?”  Most of us would probably respond:  “Thanks! When can you start?”

But that wasn’t God’s response when David, nearing the peak of his earthly power, made the same offer.  Sitting in his palace in a time of peace and prosperity, David thought that he should do something for the God who had so wonderfully blessed him and yet was still being worshipped in a tent.  In a society that was built on the mutual obligations of kings and their subjects, David wanted to show God that he could show favor to God, too.

Instead of gratitude, God expressed surprise:  “Should you build me a house to dwell in?”  After recalling all that had done for David, he promised even more.    First, he would plant the people of Israel on their own land.  Second, God would build a house for David—not a physical structure but something greater, an everlasting kingdom ruled by one of his descendants.  As Christians we believe that Jesus was that descendant.

David was wealthy and powerful but he was far from perfect.  He was a sinner, even guilty of adultery and murder!  Despite his weakness and sinfulness, however, David strove to do something that we are also invited to do and that the Blessed Virgin Mary did in a unique and wonderful way:  instead of building a house for God, they made a home for God in their hearts.

David, the youngest and least significant of the sons of Jesse, was chosen by God and anointed to be the King of Israel.  In selecting David, God told Samuel his servant: “Not as man sees does God see, because man sees the appearance but the LORD looks into the heart” (1 Samuel 16:7b).  Mary, a young woman probably no more than 15 years old, left her heart open to the Lord.

In his gospel, St. Luke tells us that at the time of Jesus’ birth in Bethlehem (2:19) and later when Mary and Joseph discovered him among the teachers in the Temple of Jerusalem (2:51a), she kept those experiences in her heart.  When she and Joseph presented Jesus in the Temple at the time of his circumcision and naming, she was also warned by Simeon that one day their son would be “a sign that will be contradicted…so that the thoughts of many hearts may be revealed” (2:34b, 35).

At Christmas our thoughts often turn toward family and home, and on New Year’s Day we often make resolutions to improve our lives.  As we enter into these holidays, I ask you to spend some time reflecting on the house of the LORD that you have built in your heart, a house of faith, hope and love. It doesn’t have to be perfect, a palace or a temple.  Remember, the Savior of the world was born in a manger. +