Click here to edit subtitle

Fourth Sunday of Advent (B)

The Word This Week

Here we enter a new stage of Advent: having spent so much time on the Second Coming, now we look back, to remember the details of the Lord'’s First Coming. Today we focus on the character of Mary, and hear of the angel Gabriel being sent to her, to invite her to take her part in the mystery of the Incarnation, “the revelation of the mystery kept secret for endless ages”. This mystery springs from the House of David, and so we lead into the Gospel by hearing of the establishing of that house. An interesting idea is that the first reading talks of David wishing to build a house for the Lord; through the prophet he is told not of the house that he would build, but the House which is his line: eventually, in Mary (betrothed to Joseph) the House of David does itself become the house of the Lord, the womb wherein he has a dwelling place.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-5.8-12.14.16.

The central point of the reading today is the establishing of the House of David. This is a prologue to the Gospel, pointing out the fact that it was God who established David’'s line, from which would come the promised Messiah. In a way the whole reading hinges on a play on words: David wants to build a house for God: God refuses this, but says instead He will build a House (line, family) for David, and that this line will last forever. It’s easy to look forward to the story of the Nativity and see in that the conclusion to this story. The tone of this reading is very positive - it is a promise for David. The feeling of looking towards the future will be very easy for the reader to convey, especially in the sentences from “"The Lord will make you great"” onwards. Special emphasis should be saved for the last line: "“...your throne shall be established forever.”"


Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27.

Typical Saint Paul: only three sentences in this reading, and the first one is really awkward! Notice the key words in the first sentence: “"Good News"”, "“revelation"”, "“mystery"”, “"broadcast"” and “"faith"”. The idea is simple: God’'s love has been hidden from the pagans: now that Jesus has come, as one of us, that secret or mystery is revealed. Paul’'s job is to broadcast it to all. This reading is important because it tells us a lot about what Christmas is: it is about revealing the hidden mystery. Just as a child is hidden in its mother’'s womb for the nine months of pregnancy, so was this mystery of God’'s love hidden for endless ages. But as the child is born and so revealed to the world, so the mystery of God is revealed to the world in the birth of the child of Mary. Read this very slowly and deliberately, but with a great enthusiasm in your voice - it is about giving glory to God. People may not pick up the link to Christmas, so do your best to emphasise the words: "“...the revelation of mystery kept secret for endless ages..."” Even if people don’'t get the reference from you or the homily, there will be other similar references over the Christmas Season that may remind them of this. If at the end of the reading, people are going to join in saying "“Amen"”, don’t worry about it: it just means they join in the glory given to God!