Sunday Sermon for December 20, 2020, the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year B
Readings: 2 Sam 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Rom 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38
In the second reading today St. Paul proclaims glory forever to the only wise God through Jesus Christ. The glory St. Paul gives to God is according to his Gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ made known to the nations to bring about the obedience of faith. This is something most of us simply take for granted, but as we draw near to Christmas, we need to ask exactly what St. Paul is proclaiming.
First of all, St. Paul tells us there is only one God. These are the first words we profess every time we pray the Creed. However, we live in a world that has abandoned faith in the one true God and, in its embrace of relativism, the world professes that any god is, and many gods are, acceptable. We live in a world that believes all religions are equal. In other words, if everything is equal, there can be no objective truth. This means we have substituted opinion for truth and, amazingly, all opinions are equal. Even worse, truth is now merely an opinion.
So, do we believe there is only one God Who is the Supreme Being, which means there can be only one? Do we believe this one true God, Who is Truth and Love, has revealed Himself and that His revelation is truth and not merely one opinion among others? Do we believe the Scriptures are divinely inspired and, therefore, are absolute and unchangeable truth?
This brings us to the second point St. Paul makes: the proclamation of Jesus Christ. If we believe the Scriptures are divinely inspired, then what we hear in the first reading regarding God’s to David must be true, that is, the Lord will establish a house for David and raise up one of David’s heirs who will be a son to God, and will establish David’s house and his kingdom and throne to stand firm forever. As we know, there has been no kingdom, throne, or son of David reigning in Israel for over 2000 years. So, either God’s promise to David is false, which means the Scriptures are neither inspired nor true, or it is fulfilled in a way that is not immediately obvious.
If we accept the truth of what we hear in the first reading, then we need to ask ourselves about our belief in the Gospel. St. Luke records for us the exchange between our Blessed Lady and St. Gabriel wherein the glorious Archangel reveals to our Lady that her Son will be called the Son of the Most High, that the Lord will give Him the throne of David His father, that He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and that His Kingdom will have no end. This addresses everything God promised to David through the Prophet Nathan, as we hear in the first reading.
This means we need to believe Jesus is God, not another god, but the same God Who is revealed as three Divine Persons. It means we need to believe a virgin conceived a Child in her womb by the power of God and that the Child is God. Not only is this Child the fulfillment of everything promised to David, but He is the fulfillment, beyond anyone’s wildest imagination, of everything God promised to Israel. Everyone in Israel knew a Messiah had been promised, but who would ever believe that God Himself, the one true God Who is infinitely above everything He created, would become a creature and would Himself be the Messiah?
St. Paul speaks of the proclamation of Jesus Christ. The Name Jesus, Joshua in Hebrew, means Savior. In Greek, Christ means the Anointed One or, in Hebrew, the Messiah. The Rabbis recognized over 300 specific prophecies that would be fulfilled by the Messiah. The fulfillment of many, or even most, of these prophecies would not be sufficient; the Messiah needed to fulfill them all. Archbishop Fulton Sheen said the odds of one person fulfilling all of these prophesies is 1 over 84 followed by 126 zeroes. To say Jesus is Lord, God, Savior, and Christ cannot be something that rolls off our tongue with little or no reflection. It must be a statement of faith that comes from the heart. We must also understand that this act of faith is not merely a personal opinion; rather it is a statement of truth that does not allow for anything contrary.
When these truths were presented to our Blessed Lady, she professed her absolute acceptance. Her act of faith, “Let it be done to me according to your word,” changed her life and the world forever. With the knowledge presented above, our act of faith will change our lives forever. Therefore, with St. Paul, proclaim Jesus Christ, to the glory of God forever!
Fr. Altier’s column appears regularly in The Wanderer, a national Catholic weekly published in St. Paul, Minn. For information about subscribing to The Wanderer, please visit www.thewandererpress.com.