Immersed in Christ: December 20, 2020
The Fourth Sunday in Advent
Jesus Gives Us Divine Life
Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.
(Responsorial: Psalm 89)
What do I expect Jesus to do for me? Do I expect Jesus to help me be anything more than just a really good human being so I can get to heaven?
In the Entrance Antiphon we ask God to let the “clouds rain down the Just One, and the earth bring forth a Savior.” Jesus is not only human but divine. He comes from both heaven and earth — to give us the fullness of life, both human and divine. This is the mystery of his identity and of our identity as divine children of the Father.
In the Opening Prayer we ask God to “fill our hearts with your love” — the love revealed” in “the coming of your Son as man.” But we cannot fully understand Christ’s love for us or return it until God leads our minds “through his suffering and death to the glory of his resurrection.” Only then can we really know him and love him as he deserves. The love we ask God for is a divine love that responds to a Person who is divine. With this love we can also love others divinely, as God loves them. Jesus came to enable us to do this: to love “in him” as children of our Father.
The Responsorial Psalm invites us to: “sing the goodness of the Lord forever” (Psalm 89) and tells us why: because of God’s kindness and his faithfulness; because of the covenant and the promise he made to King David to “establish his throne for all generations.”
The promise was made in 2Samuel 7: 1-16. David didn’t think it was right that he himself was “living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent.” He wanted to “build a house for God to dwell in.” But God made him a promise instead: “The LORD declares to you that the LORD will make you a house…. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me.... established forever.”
The “house” God promised David was not just a building of wood and stone. Although he had no idea of it, the house God was promising was the one Jesus had in mind when he said to his enemies, “Destroy this temple, and in three days I will raise it up.”
They answered him, “This temple has been under construction for forty-six years, and will you raise it up in three days?”
But he was speaking of the temple of his body. After he was raised from the dead, his disciples remembered that he had said this (John 2: 19-22).
The first “house” God gave David was in fact a house for God. It was the womb of one of his descendants, Mary of Nazareth.1
God also gave David a “house” in the sense of a dynasty. The “house of David” was “established forever” when Jesus died, rose, and established the Church as his continuing body on earth — the body of the “Son of David”— to “endure forever,” until the end of time. We, the Church, are the fulfillment of God’s promise to David.
The Son of God
Luke 1: 26-38 proclaims the fulfillment of God’s promise to David in explicit terms. To Mary’s son God will give “the throne of David his father. He will rule over the house of Jacob [David] forever, and his reign will be without end.”
But the key words are, “He will be called Son of the Most High…. The power of the Most High will overshadow you; hence [he] will be called the Son of God.”
Jesus did not come to be the human savior his People expected. For them the Messiah just meant “the king who would… bring Israel to its destiny.... The title Messiah-Christ meant kingship before it meant anything else; and everything suggests that to most Jews it meant nothing else.” 2
We know, in the light of Christ’s death and resurrection, that Jesus was God, the Son of God, who came to make us all sons and daughters of God by sharing his own divine life with us. He did not come just to repair what sin had damaged and restore us to healthy, moral human life. He came to call and empower us to live on the level of God. To understand “salvation” in any other way is to misunderstand totally Jesus as Savior.
Romans 16: 25-27 proclaims “the gospel which reveals the mystery hidden for ages but now manifested…” Paul identifies this “mystery” as “Christ in you, the hope of glory”; as “Christ himself, in whom are hidden all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge”; as “the mystery of [God’s] will…to gather up all things in [Christ]”. To know the mystery of Christ as “Son of God” is to know\ the mystery of salvation: it is to “be Christ” and children of the Father by sharing Christ’s own divine life. This is “the goodness of the Lord” that “we will sing forever.” 3
What do I understand now as the “fullness of life”? Does “living on the level of God” invite me to change my stance toward anything? Toward anyone?
Initiative: Say the WIT prayer before every action: “Lord, do this with me, do this in me, do this through me.” Live as Jesus’ body on earth by letting him act through you.
View Today's Readings Here
1 Matthew 1:16; Luke 1:27. 2 John McKenzie, The Power and the Wisdom, pp. 73,76 3 Colossians 1:27; 2:2-3; Ephesians 1: 9-10.