(Cycle B)

2 S. 7: 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

Rm. 16: 25-27

Lk. 1: 26-38

The last Sunday of the Advent season, the Liturgy of the Word revolves around the theme of the presence of God in history. To King David, that wants to build a temple for the Lord, God himself reminds him that it will be himself, who will construct a stable and eternal house, dwelling in the history of the people and living in their midst (first reading). The saving plan of God for humanity is effect his gracious initiative in Christ Jesus. In addition, therefore, making the authentic meaning of history, to recapitulate all things in Christ (second reading). In harmony with the first reading, also the Gospel of today gives witness to the will of God to become present in the history of men and women. Here it is not David, but Mary, in the fullness of time, the destination of the Word of the Lord. Her joyful welcoming of the promises of God and her availability to be “servant” of the divine plan, make possible the definitive arrival of salvation in the world (Gospel).

The first reading (2 S. 7: 1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16) remembers the ancient promise of Yahweh to David assuring a dynasty. This treatment is a fundamental text for understanding the messianic theology of the Bible. It represents the culmination of all of the history of David. His true greatness is not in his military prowess or in his political sagacity, but in the promise that he receives on the part of God. The texts plays with a double meaning of the word “house” (in Hebrew: bayit), that can mean as much a material building as a monarchical dynasty. The king wants to build a “house” for the Lord, that is to say, a grand temple in Jerusalem, the recently constructed capital (v. 1-2). The decision of God is opposed to the desire of the king manifested by the prophet Nathan: “Are you going to build me a house to live in? I have never lived in a house from the day when I brought the Israelites out of Egypt until today, but have kept traveling with a tent for shelter...Yahweh furthermore tells you that he will make you a house. And when your days are over and you fall asleep with you ancestors, I shall appoint you heir, you own son to succeed you and I shall make his sovereignty secure” (vs. 4-6, 11-12). The Lord does not want to be limited to a sacred space, but he desires to be present always in the history of men and women, symbolized here by the Davidic dynasty.

David has wanted to build a temple for the Lord, he has wanted to place it in a spatial ambiance, that may be a center of attraction, immobile, and permanent for all the nation. Nevertheless, Yahweh has revealed himself to his people in movement, making them leave Egypt, leading them through the desert, bringing them into the land. Now that the people are settled God wants to keep his condition of God-on the way, that pilgrims and accompanies his people. To the desire of David, to build the Lord a material house, the Word of God is opposed that promises the found a house in history, a dynasty that will be consolidated thanks to his promise and that he himself will accompany in his historical pilgrimage until the end. God prefers time to the temple. History follows being the authentic and permanent house of God. Human history of a dynasty of a people will be the dynamic ambiance of the presence and revelation of God. David cannot give stability to Yahweh, enclosing him in a sacred space; Yahweh, on the other hand, will himself give stability to David in the midst of the happenings of human history.

The second reading (Rm. 16: 25-27) is a solemn doxology with which the Christian community expresses its stupor in front of the mystery of the Incarnation, and that prepares very well the Christmas liturgy that will be celebrated soon. In this reading resounds the echo of the praise of the Church of the eternal and wise God, that has wanted to manifest himself in the fullness of time in Christ Jesus, offering in him salvation to all of humanity. It treats of a mystery “which for endless ages was kept secret but now (as the prophets wrote) is revealed” (vs. 25-26). A mystery now revealed and manifest: God has carried history to its fullness with the coming of his Son, Jesus Christ, key and meaning of universal history and of the destiny of each man and woman.

The Gospel (Lk. 1: 26-38) is the full realization of the prophecy of Nathan. The visit of the angel to Mary of Nazareth, announcing to her the birth of Jesus, in line with the ancient promise made to David: “The Lord God will give him the throne of his ancestor David; he will rule over the House of Jacob for ever and his reign will have no end” (Lk. 1: 32-33). In that small village of Nazareth, far from the great religious institutions of Israel, God announces his decisive intervention in history. Now the promise is not made to David, the king, but to Mary, the Virgin, “full of grace” (v. 28). She is now the new Zion, the true Jerusalem of whose most holy womb will be born for all of humanity “the Son of the Most High” (v. 32). The Holy Spirit will come upon her (v. 35), the strength and the life of God, like at the beginning of creation (Gn. 1:2), thus he that will be born of her “will be holy and will be called Son of God” (v. 35). The covenant between God and Israel finds in her the highest expression: “the Lord is with you” (v. 28). Mary, “servant of the Lord” (v. 38), joyfully open to the plans of God, becomes the definitive dwelling of the Most High God.

The divine presence in history, announced by Nathan, and so many other prophets, arrives and its culminating moment through Mary: the descendent of the dynasty of David, that is to say, the history of salvation of ancient Israel, reaches its fullness now, through the Virgin of Nazareth. The center of interest of this reading is the conception by work of the Holy Spirit, that is to say, the proclamation of the divine presence in the flesh of Jesus, the son of Mary of Nazareth. The paschal faith of the Church contemplates Jesus before his birth and proclaims his origin and divine nature. Jesus is the Messiah, the Son of God, raised and enthroned in glory. God has promised to build for himself a house to dwell in the midst of men and women forever. This house is Jesus. In him, God finds humanity and all of humanity finds the salvation of God. The Word of God prepares us for the mystery of Christmas. Paradoxical and disconcerting mystery: salvation has arrived and God has become present in simplicity and poverty in the history of men and women.