In the next 24 hrs the Roman Missal provides for four distinct masses that can be celebrated. Working backwards: Christmas during the Day, Mass at Dawn, Midnight Mass, the Vigil of Christmas and this morning there is one last mass for Advent. It is the first reading for the last mass of Advent, that I would like to reflect upon.
It comes from 2 Samuel chapter 7. The kingdom of David is at peace and David is relaxing comfortably in his palace. One can only imagine what it must have been like.
There was only one problem. The Ark of the Covenant was still in a tent, just as it had been when the Hebrews were living like nomads. If David had built himself a palace surly others had now built homes. But God was relegated to a tent. So David decides that he should build a dwelling place for God, which seem only right.
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said: “Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the LORD: Should you build me a house to dwell in?
Ultimately David's son Solomon will build a temple and after its destruction a Second Temple will be built and in 70 AD it will be destroyed. The sight of these temples is still considered a holy place. But as magnificent as these temples were none can compare to the "house" the Lord promises to build for David. As Nathan reveals to David:
The LORD also reveals to you that he will establish a house for you. And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his Kingdom firm. I will be a father to him, and he shall be a son to me. Your house and your Kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.
From the house of David will come the dwelling place of God, Jesus, God incarnate. And with the outpouring of the Spirit all humanity will have the opportunity to become the dwelling place of God.
In the reading today we hear the beginning of David's plan for the first dwelling place of God, but more importantly we hear God's plan for his ultimate dwelling place on earth, humanity, beginning with the incarnation.
Yes, almost a millennium will separate these two events: David's plan and the Nativity. But such is the working of God in our world. While we measure time in nanoseconds God measures in centuries. While we can plan a building, God plans a universal kingdom. On that night in Bethlehem one baby was born and today there are more than 2 billion Christians on earth. That my brothers and sisters is the power of God.