A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday in Advent
By Sr. M. Martha Pavelsky, MHSH
In today’s first Scripture reading (2 Samuel 7: 1-5, 8b-12, 12A, 16), we see God issuing something of a course correction to the king. David somehow had come to think that he had created his own success (“Settled in his palace”, “rest from his enemies”) and he wanted to share his prosperity with God. As soon as you read that, you may think, “isn’t that backwards?” and in fact God instructs the prophet Nathan to remind King David of how he made it to the top – namely, with the power of God, not on his own merits. Put more bluntly, God asks David, “Who do you think you are? I called you from herding animals. I made you commander of my people.” In contemporary parlance, in other words, God is saying to David, “Get over yourself!”
Most of us have gotten such treatment at least once in our lives, maybe not from a prophet but from life itself. We are shocked – SHOCKED – that thus and such is happening to us! A pandemic – here – now? Businesses shutting, opening, shutting again? People who never could have imagined needing any kind of public assistance, forced by lack of funds to stand in line at a food bank? We are not citizens of a third-rate dictatorship – ah, but haven’t you heard that very term used recently, and repeatedly?
Here we are, folks – look in a mirror and confront your own need, then turn to God and express just what God has been hoping to hear from you: your longing for a savior. Jesus’ coming to save us was not just centuries ago. He will come again and again, in all sorts of disguises and through all sorts of people and agencies, whenever we humble ourselves to ask, and accept what has made available.
In what ways are you serving as God’s surrogate in reaching out to others’ needs? Think beyond the material to the emotional and spiritual. Take note of the expressions of longing in so many Advent and Christmas hymns, such as “O come, O Come, Emmanuel”. Make those songs your true prayer.