Fourth Sunday of Advent 2020

Fourth Sunday of Advent

“ We plan and God laughs.” Have you ever heard this saying before? I’m sure that many of us have heard this. Perhaps a family member or friend who knows you well said this to you in response to the events of your life at a particular time when you were surprised at how things turned out for you.

So often we have a plan for ourselves. We think we are on a certain path in our lives and that we are in control. We may even be tempted to try and control our relationship with God. We may try to define God in a way that fits neatly into our lives. We may say to God in effect, “ Here is where you will fit into my life. Here is where we will meet. Here is where you will dwell.”

In today’s Scripture readings, we find King David taking this approach toward the Lord. At first glance it seems that David is truly humble and trying to give honor to God. However a deeper look reveals David’s pride. David is trying to honor God according to David’s way, according to David’s plan, according to David’s definition of how God will enter the lives of His people. David is in effect saying , “Here is where we will encounter God”.

We hear God‘s response through the prophet Nathan. God reminds Nathan and David that God is greater than any plans of humankind. God’s activity is unlimited and transcendent. It goes far beyond our wildest imagination. It is so much more than what we could understand. And in God’s activity and plan for us, great and wonderful things happen. Grace is given in an abundance beyond our reckoning.

So it is that we enter this fourth week of Advent. We celebrate the unimaginable. We celebrate what was thought to be impossible. We celebrate that through a virgin birth, God is born as man.

All the promises of the Old Testament foretell this event. And to the astonishment of humankind, God fulfills them all. To our wonder, God is born as man. God makes His dwelling among us.

As we celebrate Christmas, are we forgetful of this profound event? Do we occupy ourselves with the activity of giftgiving and allow our spiritual senses to become dull to the power and impact of the Incarnation – God born as one of us.

The Incarnation is a proclamation of God’s presence in our world. God literally came to dwell among us. We know this. We believe this. We celebrate this.

And yet do we still, like King David of old, try to give God our plan for how He enters our lives? Are we surprised when we discover we are truly not in control? Are we open in mind and heart and spirit to the boundless ways of God working in our lives?

Have you ever been wondrously surprised at how much better things have turned out for you than you had ever imagined? Have you ever been doubting God‘s love and presence – only in time to discover that a far better plan is unfolding for you? I sincerely hope so. Our God is abundant and boundless in graces bestowed upon us. This Christmas week, let us be open and celebrate how God is present in our lives – most often making Himself known in unexpected ways.

If we do this, then we will be able to truly receive the Christmas Gift:

“And the Word became flesh, and made His dwelling among us. And we saw His glory, the glory as of the Father’s only Son, full of grace and truth. “

Together let us see His glory.

FIRST READING
2 Sm 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16

The kingdom of David shall endure for ever before the Lord.

A reading from the second Book of Samuel

When King David was settled in his palace,
   and the Lord had given him rest from his enemies on every side,
   he said to Nathan the prophet,
   “Here I am living in a house of cedar,
   while the ark of God dwells in a tent!”
Nathan answered the king,
   “Go, do whatever you have in mind,
   for the LORD is with you.”
But that night the LORD spoke to Nathan and said:
   “Go, tell my servant David, ‘Thus says the Lord:
   Should you build me a house to dwell in?’

“It was I who took you from the pasture
   and from the care of the flock
   to be commander of my people Israel.
I have been with you wherever you went,
   and I have destroyed all your enemies before you.
And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.
I will fix a place for my people Israel;
   I will plant them so that they may dwell in their place
   without further disturbance.
Neither shall the wicked continue to afflict them as they did of old,
   since the time I first appointed judges over my people Israel.
I will give you rest from all your enemies.

The LORD also reveals to you
   that he will establish a house for you.
And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors,
   I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins,
   and I will make his kingdom firm.
I will be a father to him,
   and he shall be a son to me.
Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me;
   your throne shall stand firm forever.”

RESPONSORIAL PSALM
Ps 89:2-3, 4-5, 27, 29

R. (2a) For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

The promises of the LORD I will sing forever;
   through all generations my mouth shall proclaim your faithfulness.
For you have said, “My kindness is established forever;”
   in heaven you have confirmed your faithfulness.

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

“I have made a covenant with my chosen one,
   I have sworn to David my servant:
Forever will I confirm your posterity
   and establish your throne for all generations.”

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

“He shall say of me, ‘You are my father,
   my God, the Rock, my savior.’
Forever I will maintain my kindness toward him,
   and my covenant with him stands firm.”

R. For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord.

SECOND READING
Rom 16:25-27

The mystery kept sacred for long ages has now been manifested.

A reading from the Letter of Saint Paul to the Romans

Brothers and sisters:
To him who can strengthen you,
   according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ,
   according to the revelation of the mystery kept secret for long ages
   but now manifested through the prophetic writings and,
   according to the command of the eternal God,
   made known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith,
   to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ
   be glory forever and ever. Amen.

GOSPEL ACCLAMATION
Lk 1:38

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.

R. Alleluia, alleluia.

GOSPEL
Lk 1:26-38

Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son.

A reading from the holy Gospel according to Luke

The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.

“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.

The Gospel of the Lord…

2 thoughts on “Fourth Sunday of Advent 2020

  1. God has plans for the Catholic Church and the Diocese of Rockford – we will see much goodness continue to pour forth. God bless every priest, lay, and religious. Thanks for the reflection Andrew Hougan.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. We plan and God laughs. So true! Look at His plan for you – from Father Andrew Hougan to father Andrew Hougan. You know the priesthood and now fatherhood. You are now the “pastor” of your family. Thank you for this message.

    Liked by 1 person

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