“Constant in Love”

 

December 20, 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent

2 Samuel 7:1-11,16

Psalm 89:1-4,19-20,25-26

Romans 16:25-27

Luke 1:26-38

 

Bishop Ariel P. Santos

 

 

This is the fourth and last Sunday of Advent and we step up our anticipation of the coming of our Messiah. 

 

In 2 Samuel 7, David, after conquering many battles, was given rest on every side from enemies.  David’s life was mostly marked by conflict.  Before he was king, he had to fight Goliath. He had conflict with Saul for fifteen years.  After God had anointed him as king, he was constantly fighting with the Philistines.  It is not pleasant to be in conflict.  We were not created to be in conflict with each other. It is not cool; it is not healthy for our physical body. It causes stress and imbalance in us. We were created to have peace in our hearts because this peace is an important ingredient in our well-being.  

 

During peace time, David thought of building a structure for a dwelling place for God because he already had a luxurious house for himself.  He felt guilty that he was living in a nice palace but God's dwelling was a temporary tabernacle. The Ark of the Covenant was not even in a permanent structure.  He told Nathan, the prophet, that he desired to build a house for God.  Nathan, at first, said, “Yes,” but God spoke to him that David should not build Him a house.  What God said to him that He will build David a house – a royal posterity; a lineage for him that will last forever.  This is God’s promise to him. 

 

There is nothing wrong with David wanting to build a monument for God. We must understand that in our ownership of a monument for God, that the real habitation of God is His people. We are the true temple.  This is a parable, a tangible representation of who we really are as God’s dwelling place.  

 

Solomon was to build the temple, but after his death, there was a split in the kingdom of Israel.  There existed Judah, as the southern kingdom and Israel was the northern kingdom.  Israel’s capital was Samaria, where the king’s palace was.  Judah’s capital was Jerusalem where its king also had its palace.

We would think why this would happen when God’s promise was that His kingdom would continue.

 

Two generations after David, there was already a split in the kingdom, but David’s line continued in Judah and his descendants became kings for the next 400 years.  However, in the 6th century BC, the Babylonians conquered Israel. In this captivity, not only was Jerusalem and the temple that Solomon built destroyed, but it also ended the royal lineage of David.  There were no more monarchs anymore.  

 

It is easy to think that Nathan was a false prophet or the God of Israel was a fake one.  The Kingdom was meant to endure forever and it t seemed like it ended.  St. Paul said in Romans 9:6, “But it is not as though the word of God has failed."

 

Fast forward to 600 years, in Nazareth, an angel went to an obscure town and visited a teenage virgin. The angel told her, "Do not be afraid, you will bear a son, you shall name Him Jesus; He will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High; and the Lord God will give Him the throne of His father David; and He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and His kingdom will have no end.”  Although it was not political kings after the Babylonian captivity, the line of David continued.  Joseph was a descendant of David and because he was going to marry Mary, their son would be a rightly descendant as well.  This shows that behind the scenes, God was working. 

 

In God’s divine economy, the fulfillment of God’s plan, it doesn’t seem like what we see in our natural eyes coincides with God’s fulfillment of His plan.  A line in a song goes, “Though the wrong seems oft so strong, God is the Ruler yet.”  What seems to be on the surface is not the truth.  We must not see with the natural eyes, but with the spiritual eyes.  God continues to work and is even working now.

 

What was in the political sense effectively terminated, which was the royal throne of David, is really now!  The message of the angel was the fulfillment of prophecy. Jesus' kingdom will have no end, and you and I belong to it.  We are in it right now!  This is the kingdom of God and this Church is part of it.  Understand it and don’t lose focus.  Do not look with our natural eyes for God is always working.  God uses the base, obscure, and earthen vessels to shame the wise and to accomplish His will. He uses David to fight Goliath; Jesus, as a baby, against the powerful Caesar; a meek lamb against several beasts in the Book of Revelation.   

 

Put our trust in God. Many Christians still look to celebrity, the glitter of gold, and the power and pomp of nations but it will pass like a dream away.  Babylon, Caesar, Greece, Rome, Persia, Assyria passed away but the word of God endures.  The arm of the Lord is strong that stands in the midst of powers and principalities, and He will right the wrong.   God is not finished yet.  Looking at things through political, cultural, or material lens gives a superficial picture, but God’s economy and His ways are higher and it is the truth. What appears on the surface to be defeat is not the truth.  The truth is God is with us. God is working even now.  Hope doesn’t see but faith knows. 

 

Realize that some plans of God take years; generations or centuries even to fulfill, to be seen and to be manifested. God’s message to us is: wait patiently for the Lord. Psalm 37 says that it seems that the wicked are prospering but God tells us not to fret for in a while they will be no more according to His plan. In His time, He will make all things beautiful.

 

People who look only at the surface become mockers and be unbelievers.  St. Peter warns us that there will be mockers who will ask us, “Where is the fulfillment of God’s promise to us?”  Though the wrong seem so strong, God is the ruler yet.  Jesus is not a King-elect.  He is King and Lord now!  He is reigning now!  Even if we see the wrong and there is injustice, Jesus is still making all things new.

Those who practice “ningas-cogon” become weak in faith, impatient, give up and so they miss out.  But if we wait patiently, Jesus says that he who endures till the end will receive the salvation of God.  In Hebrews11:39, it said that all the heroes of faith didn’t receive what was promised and because God has prepared something for us, we will all together see it.

 

In the person of Mary, in her response to the angel, she became, at least for nine months, the new dwelling place of God Himself.  She is the new Ark of Covenant in which the word of God was contained.  Now, the Church is the dwelling place of the word of God,  the Body of Christ.

 

This is the last Sunday of Advent and after the creation yearned, “O come, O come, Emmanuel, ransom captive Israel, the answer begins with a fourteen year old virgin saying, "Be it done to me according to God’s word."  Saying "yes" to God is the key to receiving grace, and the honor of providing a dwelling place for Him (in the womb and in the heart).

 

Our Corporate Petitions says, “Grant us grace to build upon it facilities in which Your people being restored in Your image ever growing in love for You might become a habitation of Your presence and minister of Your life.”  It is a sort of Theotokos – God-bearer.  We would ask, “How will this be?”  We are a small church.  We are “virgins” – young and with not much ability.  God would say that by His grace, the Holy Spirit will overshadow us.  God the Most High will do it through us.  There is nothing impossible with God. Just say "yes" and we’ll be co-redemptrix because we work in the work of salvation.  We are His habitation of His presence and then we become ministers of His life.

 

We are not being asked to do something heroic; we are just being asked to be instruments.  Say "yes", then we will bear, we will endure birth pangs, and then we give birth.  The melancholic song “O come, Emmanuel, ransom captive Israel” turns into a joyful “O come, let us adore Him!”

 

This is our calling and the way it is in the kingdom of our God.

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