The Fourth Sunday of Advent, - 24 December, 2017
2 Sam 7:1-5, 8-12, 16; Psalm 89; Rom 16:25-27; Lk 1:26-38
"Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!"
The fourth and the last Sunday of Advent, the day before Christmas, what are the life-giving messages, inspiring wisdoms as we about to celebrate again "Emmanuel", God in our midst. I once heard someone deliberating and enumerating the basic beliefs of Christianity, some of them: Grace, Incarnation, Salvation and the Trinity. Going through the readings of this Fourth Sunday, it was spiritual joy and a delight to recognize these basic beliefs.
The most fascinating story about 'Grace' for me is the song, 'Amazing Grace'. The story of the Blind Man (Jn 9:1-41), the intricacies of the plot, how the blind man was interrogated, the parents also critically crossed examined. Finally the blind man spoke out for himself, “I, once was lost, but now am found, before a wretch but now saved. It was the Amazing GRACE that saved me, and how sweet was that sound. As you all know me, I was born blind, but now I see.” The unmerited nature of Grace, a Divine gift from the Creator.
"Hail, O favored one, the Lord is with you!” ‘Hail’ is often mentioned as rejoice or be glad, giving us the spirit of joy and hope in this joyful and grace filled season of Christmas. “In the Biblical language (Hebrew ’hen, Greek charis) grace is above all taken in the subjective sense, even though it always evokes the concrete and objective manifestation of this grace.” (Stampley pg. 216). Through the Grace of God, our sins are forgiven and we are saved and protected from adversities. Our God is our Savior, Redeemer and our Salvation, 'the Lord is my Light and my Salvation,’ Ps 27:1.
“Let what you have said be done to me,” was the heroic response of Mary to the messenger of Good News, Gabriel. The joy and the delight of this life is the awareness of the unfolding of God's creation and to realize also our own unique role. In the story of the Annunciation, we see the unmerited gifts of God's grace in the person of Mary. God's grace and favor, "Rejoice so highly favored" is the good news of Salvation, brought forth by God's messenger.
Our first reading from 2 Samuel gives us a very supporting platform to the heroic response of Mary to the greetings of the Angel. The Lord reveals to David through the prophecy of Nathan, “I will raise up your heir after you.... Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.” This prophecy, the angel tells Mary, will be fulfilled in the Son she is to conceive, who will be given ‘the throne of his ancestor David’, and will exercise a 'reign that will never end'.
Derek Kidner commended on psalm 89, ‘The psalm rises magnificently above the temptation to focus on the immediate scene and make God incidental to it. Against that blaze of glory it reveals the grace that allows Israel and its king to know and belong to such a Lord.’
Our response for Psalm 89 is ‘Forever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.’ The psalm echoes, an Eternal Covenant, the throne above all thrones, a throne FOREVER.
A line in our (Tongan) National Anthem, "God and Tonga are my heritage". I wish to add "God, Family and Tonga are my heritage FOREVER. Perhaps on a global level, to love God and Creation are my heritage FOREVER.
For Reflection and Discussion: What is Amazing Grace for me? What are God and Creation for me?
Bibliography: The New World Dictionary Concordance - C.D. Stampley 1970. Jerusalem Bible- Popular Edition 1974.
This week’s teaching commentary was prepared by
Aliki A Langi, Gladstone, Australia.
Bat Kol Alum 2005
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