Spirit in the City

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Mass Times

  Sacred Heart St. Paul's Kateri Centre
 Sunday 09:30 AM 11:00 AM 11:00 AM
 Monday - Friday 08:30 AM
11:30 AM*
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 Saturday 09:30 AM  -
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*  Except Mondays

ADVENT 4TH B Dec 18 2011

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4 Sunday Advent B 2011

At first reading, the conversation between David and his court prophet Nathan appears to have been prompted by the king’s generous intent to build a temple where God could dwell and be honored. Upon closer examination, and given what we know of the religious and political circumstances of that period, it would seem that David had more than one reason for building a temple. In his rise to power, the former shepherd of his family’s flocks succeeded in uniting the often contentious tribes of Israel and Judah into a viable political association. David was anointed by Samuel, and his authority was further affirmed when he was anointed by tribes from both Israel and Judah. He had brought the ark of the covenant from Shiloh to Jerusalem, pitched its tent and danced before it in joyful celebration of God’s presence in his designated capital city. David proposed that a temple be built so he would have a permanent and central site for the worship and the governance of all his people, and thus assure the continued unity of all the tribes under his leadership. David could see a political advantage to capturing God! But what David proposed was not to be.

God is a free agent, a mobile and dynamic God, who comes and goes but is never confined to one place or one people. God is the architect of the universe, designer of every natural wonder, liberator of refugees, caretaker and protector of all that is. God has no need of a temple, for God’s presence is all-pervasive. Moreover, God cannot be confined to any one place or to any one people.

Throughout Israel’s history, this lesson was driven home to the Israelites through its psalmists, prophets and sages. God was with them in Egypt. God pitched a tent with them in the desert. God was present as they settled in Canaan and made it their home. God was even present with the exiles as they suffered through their years in Babylonia, and God was with them as they returned home to make a new beginning. God’s gracious omnipresence was celebrated in Psalm 139: “I scale the heavens; you are there! I plunge to the depths; you are there! If I fly toward the dawn or settle across the sea, even there you take hold of me!”

Given God’s power to be anywhere and everywhere, the Incarnation is all the more wondrous —what a mystery that God would choose to take up residence within the confines of the human condition. Is it not in Bethlehem, the town of David, in a manger, that God found an acceptable place? Our human limitations cannot easily cope with a God who is always and everywhere. It is much easier for us to compartmentalize and to confine God to the tabernacle, to the Church, to worship.

In today’s Gospel, Mary is honored as the living temple of the God made flesh. She is the dwelling place. She is the new ark, beyond all our reasonable expectations. She is tent and temple. God is physically in her, conceived as human. And she is the temple. She is the greater house, the fulfillment of the promise to David. But not only she is the temple, we too are the locus to experience God’s presence. Because the baptized now house the Spirit of God, they are, in effect, God’s temple.

Can we like Mary hear a voice that announces that God is nigh? That we are blessed. That we are favored.

God calls us to do more than build a house for His Presence. He calls us to be the House of His Presence. He calls us to radiate His Reality to a world that looks for a Savior, that longs for a Savior.

Gabriel spoke to Mary and the world waited for her answer. Today in the baptism of Bella Pagan the parents, Antony and Essie, speak the “Yes”. Let your will be done for our child!” God speaks to each of us throughout our lives, and the world waits for our answers. For we are not Christians for ourselves, we are Christians to bring God to others and to serve God in others. If only we could join in consenting to God’s rule as Mary did: Let it be done to me as you say. Who knows what joy the world would know!

 

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