By: Rev. Fr. Sylvanus AMEH
Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a-16; Psalm 89; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38
As the liturgical season of Advent closes, Christmas draws closer, and the closer Christmas gets, the more directly the readings of the Masses of the days immediately preceding Christmas talk about it. Today’s readings for instance, talks about God’s promise to David that his dynasty shall be secured forever, as one shall come from his lineage whose sovereignty will have no end. The gospel text points undoubtedly to the fulfillment of this promise in the announcement of the birth of Jesus by the angel Gabriel who said, about the child Mary shall conceive, that “the Lord God will give him the throne of his father David…and of his kingdom, there will be no end” (Lk 1:32-33).
In both of these readings, we hear the words “The Lord is with you” addressed to David and to Mary. Though the circumstances under which these words were spoken vary, the affirmation is the same. While David was given the assurance of God’s abiding presence with him at a time when he was unperturbed, having defeated all his enemies round about, Mary was scared by the vision of the angel she saw and had to be assured that she was not alone, that God was with her. In the one case, David wanted to do something for God, while in the other, God wanted Mary to do something for him, and the assurances of God’s presence with them by prophet Nathan and the angel Gabriel respectively, must have meant a great deal to them and given them much courage.
David and Mary represents for us today, two social classes of people in the society namely, the rich and the poor. David was a great king, whose kingdom was safe from external aggressors; Mary on the other hand, was a peasant girl who had to deal daily with the struggles of life in the countryside. However, both of them were not free from worries. The same also is true of us: rich or poor, we are not free from worries, even though the kind of things we worry about will differ greatly. It is important to point here that just as God was with David in his wealth and also with Mary in her poverty (her state of being poor can be deduced from her song of praise in Luke 1:46-54), that is how God is also with us, irrespective of our social standing.
Advent points us to Christmas, and at Christmas, we celebrate Immanuel, God-with-Us (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). Christmas is a reminder of the fact that God is always with his people, that God never forgets us (Isaiah 49:14-16). Jesus also gives us this assurance when he said he is with us “even to the close of the age” (Matthew 28:20). Child of God, as you celebrate Christmas then, have it in mind that you are celebrating God’s presence with you. Irrespective of your condition in life, whether you are rich or poor, God is with you; in sickness or in good health, God is with you; whether you are a childless couple or you have children, God is with you; if you are married or you are still searching for a life partner, God is with you. Is your business thriving or is it struggling, God is with you in it; are you of a buoyant, strong faith or are you battling to stay on the path of righteousness, God is also with you. Dear friends, at all times, in all circumstances, God is and always wants to be with us.
There is also one more important lesson we need to draw from the lives of David and Mary, and that is, their situation in life did not make them drift away from God. David was wealthy, his kingdom was safe from enemies, his life was comfortable, but he did not forget God in his riches, rather, he wanted to use his wealth to serve God. Mary on the other hand was poor, but her poverty was not an excuse for sin. Oftentimes, these extremes become a reason for people to separate themselves from God. In wealth, some people no longer see the need for God; they get buried in their luxuries, and their material possessions become their god. Some others see their lack of material things as a reason for sin, and they expect God to “understand”. While wealth is good, poverty is not a sin and must never be used as an excuse to sin. We must keep this in mind at all times, especially during this season of Christmas when a lot of people get involved in all sorts of evil. Let us pray therefore, for a heart of contentment using Proverbs 30:7-9:
Two things I ask of you, Lord; do not refuse me before I die: keep falsehood and lies far from me; give me neither poverty nor riches, but give me only my daily bread. Otherwise, I may have too much and disown you and say, ‘Who is the Lord?’ Or I may become poor and steal, and so dishonor the name of my God.
Dear friends, as we prepare to celebrate Christmas, may we not by any means remove God from the picture, for it is all about Immanuel, God-with-us. May the peace of the Lord be with you all. Maranatha, come Lord Jesus!