December 13, 2011
Fourth Sunday of Advent [December 18, 2011]
It has long been my conviction that there are two places, two buildings, two structures, two reminiscences that are important to us, vital to the deepest part of our human psyche. They are, first, the place, the home where we were born. Secondly, the church where we celebrated the sacraments of initiation.
True, that original home may not exist any longer or perhaps we have moved many times since our birth. Nonetheless, that building where we spent our early days, the back yard, the swing hanging from the old cottonwood limb, the street where we rode our tricycle, all these memories are part of our very humanity. Here is where we first got a sense of the world around us and somehow discovered where we fit in. In short, certain places leave an impression on our very soul. This is where life began for us.
And the local church, St. Joes, St. Anthony’s, Sacred Heart, or whatever its name, this is the place where we first came in touch with the sacred, even though we may have been more interested in the cookies our mother brought along for silencers! Obviously, we had no idea what that man all dressed in colorful robes was doing up there in front, no idea what folks around us were saying, what those shining objects were up there on that table with the white cloth. Somehow, intuitively, we knew we were in a sacred setting. Mother kept shussing us to keep quiet, so that must have meant something, at least until we needed to visit the bathroom.
The point here is that certain places have a sacred meaning and character by their very nature. We would go back there if we could just to be in touch again with that early experience, that sense of sacred presence once again.
Sadly, I must admit that the home where I was born and the church where I prayed during my earliest days have both disappeared with time and uncontrollable circumstances. But my mind can still reconstruct the landscape and even remember circumstances that formed my early moral fiber.
We all remember those famous lines of, Robert Frost in his lovely poem, “The Death of the Hired Man.” “Home is the place where, if you go there, they have to take you in.” It is true; I believe, we are all mysteriously pulled back home if we want to go there, physically or mystically.
Homes are often mentioned in the scriptures: We know Jesus was born in Bethlehem, lived Nazareth; the temple where he discussed the Scriptures was in Jerusalem.
In our first reading from the Book of Samuel for this Fourth Sunday of Advent the story is told of King David who, once he was settled in his palace, decided that he would build a house for Yahweh. He became a bit nervous, realizing that he lived in a sumptuous home while Yahweh, God of the Hebrews, had no house where the people of Israel could come to pray and offer sacrifices.
Before, he could call the construction workers together, however, he experienced a vision of God who told him that He (Yahweh) did not need a house built with human hands. Indeed, he (God) would build a house for Israel a house that would be everlasting. “Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me; your throne shall stand firm forever.”
What we learn here, of course, is that the “house” will be a person, someone of David’s clan who will carry on David’s kingdom for all generations. For Christians, this is a clear reference to Jesus, Son of David, son of Joseph and Mary.
It was this Jesus, Son of David, who assured his followers, and all future Christians that they were dearly loved by God, that they were sons and daughters of the Most High.
It was this same Jesus, Son of David, who told his disciples to spread the good news of the kingdom of God to the ends of the earth. They were promised that He, Jesus Christ would be with them.
We may not end this reflection without insisting that Jesus, Son of David first made his “home” in the womb of Mary of Nazareth. In some sense, therefore, Mary of Nazareth, and all mothers provide us with our first home. All this, of course, is the foundation for the doctrine of the Incarnation. God’s Son, Son of David, Son of Mary took on human flesh, the flesh of human kind; henceforth, He will make his home with us, his brothers and sisters until the end of the ages.
All of this we will experience first hand once again one week hence as we celebrate the Solemnity of the Nativity of the Lord (Christmas). On that day we shall be reminded once again that we need never be concerned that we will be without a home where we can meet the Lord in Word, and sacrament and wherever we, his brothers and sisters meet to experience the Son of God on the Lord’s Day. It is during those sacred moments that we can confidently say that we are home again.
Posted by Cindy Lentine on December 13, 2011 02:36 PM.