4th Sunday of Advent - Sunday, December 20, 2020

Father Jim Donohue's picture

Father Jim Donohue

December 14, 2020


In our first reading (2 Samuel 7) God, through the prophet Nathan, promises to do a wonderful deed for David. Nathan tells David that God will make a “house” for him, a lineage from which David’s offspring will follow. God tells David that this house, and the kingdom that will emerge from this house, “shall be made sure forever.” 

In our gospel reading (Luke 1:26-38) God, through the angel Gabriel, promises to do a wonderful deed for Mary. Gabriel tells Mary that she has found favor with God and that she will bear a son and that this son “will be great and will be called the Son of the Most High.” 

Each of these encounters weaves together the marvelous and the ordinary. The divine intervention through the prophet Nathan and the angel Gabriel come about in the ordinary dilemmas of life. And this happens in surprising and unexpected ways.

As King, David is trying to solidify his rule in Israel, building a “house” for God (i.e., the temple). But God turns the tables and proclaims that God will build a “house” for David. God promises that this kingdom will be made “sure” forever and that this “house” will be established forever. However, we all know that David’s kingship had begun and had been cultivated under Solomon and was ultimately destroyed by the Babylonians in 587 BCE. The temple and the city of Jerusalem were destroyed and all the inhabitants were taken in captivity to live in exile in Babylon for 70 years. Yet, despite these incredible setbacks—that looked like the end of all of God’s promises—Jesus will emerge from the House of David. The twists and turns of history, including moments of great despair, reveal God’s faithfulness.

As a young woman in a small backwater town, Mary is told that she will become pregnant. Yet, she is not married and “has not known a man.” Again, the marvelous enters into the ordinary and Mary trusts that God can do a wonderful deed for her. Although she cannot imagine how this is possible, Mary trusts, believing that “nothing is impossible for God.” The twists and turns of history, including moments of honest questioning, reveal God’s faithfulness.

And what about us? What wonderful deed might we want God to do for us? For someone we love? For someone we find hard to love? How might the marvelous enter into the ordinary circumstances of our lives? Do these “wants” seem possible or impossible? Do we trust that God can do something wonderful for us like God did for David and Mary? Can we wait in hope through the twists and turns of our own lives for God to reveal God’s faithfulness?