Sorry, it's been more than a week since my last posting. I've gotten lazy. But not to worry. There is much to discuss in the next few days. Though the three of us seminarians in Rome do not quite get the Thanksgiving experience back stateside, we do a lot to make it seem just like home. We've got our Turkey feast, Big New Man Dinner, New Man show (which basically turns into a burn fest and I'm the curtain guy!), and of course the classic football game. So just wait...
Meanwhile here is another homily from Aaron Rose, another seminarian here in Rome. This is based off of the fourth Sunday in Advent.
May it be done to me according to your word.
My brothers and sisters in Christ,
With these words, Mary gives a home to live in. All of our Scripture readings this Advent have been exhorting us to prepare for the Lord’s coming. In today’s gospel from Luke we celebrate that first coming of Christ in His Incarnation. The Church teaches that Jesus Christ, eternally begotten by God the Father from all eternity, the Second Person of the Trinity, took upon himself a sinless human nature. He inherited everything we as humans have, a human body, a human soul, a human will. He also remained a Divine Person, God, with His Divine Will and Divine Intellect. This mysterious union of Jesus’ humanity and divinity is the Incarnation.
The Incarnation of Christ is the definitive coming of God among mankind. The gospel is very clear how this came about. God sent his messenger, the angel Gabriel, to ask Mary the most important question in the history of the world. “Will you be the mother of God?” As Fulton Sheen used to say, “Will you give God a human nature”?
Mary’s response we know well: May it be done to me according to your word.
I once heard a story about a 12 year old boy who, every day for two years of his life meditated on the Incarnation. He later would enter the Catholic priesthood and give the Church over sixty years of ministry before he died. He gave God his human nature to be used for sixty years as a priest of Jesus Christ. After I heard that story, I thought that God must have used that time of meditative prayer as a foundation for what that boy would later become. What is it about God becoming a Man that drew his attention?
In our first reading from 2 Samuel, King David is sitting “in his palace,” and he is confiding in God’s prophet, Nathan. How can I live in a house of cedar while all of this time, the Ark of God dwells in a tent”? It must have seemed to David that, compared to his cedar palace, a tent is not worthy of God. David wanted to give God something better.
God’s response upsets David’s expectations. God proceeds to remind him, “Should you build me a house to dwell in? I have been with you wherever you went.” It is as if God is saying, David, I do not look at things the way you do. I chose you, the youngest of your brothers, and I made you the king of Israel. I will bring forth a son descending from you, and of His kingdom there will be no end. God did not allow David to build the temple for him because He had another house in mind. He wandted to dwell in David’s human nature.
What made that Catholic priest’s response so wonderful, and what made Mary’s Fiat, her Yes, so wonderful, is that it provided a house for God to work among us. During Jesus’ human life there were many who accepted Him, His way of life and teaching. There were many others who rejected Him. Everyone who ever heard of Jesus had to make a choice.
In God’s Providence, we have been born between the first coming of Jesus in a human nature and his Second Coming in glory at the end of time. Not everyone has been so priveleged. Today, in this fourth Sunday of Advent, God is asking us all the same question He asked King David, the same question he asked that priest, that He asked Mary His Virgin Mother. Will you give me your human nature?
In between Christ’s first and second Coming, He dwells not in a cedar palace. The house God wants to dwell in is found in the Church in the heart of every believer! Right there, in your heart, will you build God a house to dwell in?