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Christmas Eve, 2010

December 24, 2010

Blessed Christmas Eve!

Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay;
give new courage to Your people who trust in Your love.
By Your coming, raise us to the joy of Your Kingdom,
where You live and reign with the Father and the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen.
(Opening Prayer from today’s Mass)

Readings (Mass in the morning):
2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16 (God will establish a house for David forever)
Psalm 89:2-5, 27, 29 “For ever I will sing the goodness of the Lord”
+ Luke 1:67-79 (Zachariah’s song at John’s birth)

When God gives us rest from our enemies on every side,
it’s time to build His house.

During most of Israel’s history, war was simply a staple of daily life.
Foreign raiders swept in without notice, capturing, looting and destroying.
There was no rest from Israel’s enemies on any side.
It had been like that for generations.
In fact, that’s why Israel had begged for a king in the first place.

We too must be like other nations with a king…
to lead us in warfare and fight our battles
-I Samuel 8:20

That’s exactly what King David did.
There’s a reason the women sang

Saul has slain his thousands and David his ten thousands
-I Samuel 18:7

God gave David to Israel as a savior, to give them rest from their enemies on every side
(II Samuel 7:1).

Once that had been accomplished,
David could finally focus on something other than the need for immediate defense.
His thoughts went right to the Lord.

Here I am living in a house of cedar while the ark of God dwells in a tent!
-II Samuel 7:2

Although God was pleased with David’s intention, He had bigger plans afoot.
He explained that although He had no complaints about going about in a tent
there was a house to be built–two houses, actually,
and David was not to be the builder of either.

First, God would build a house for David
an eternal dynasty that would look to God Himself as Father (II Samuel 7:11, 14).
Second, David’s son would build a house for God (II Samuel 7:13).

Today we are on the threshold of a whole new way of looking at those realities.
Tonight we will kneel in worship as God once again pitches His tent among us,
for when St. John wrote

…and the Word became flesh and dwelt among us
-John 1:14

the word he used for “dwelt among us” literally means “pitched His tent among us”!
And note that tents were covered with skins–see Exodus 26:14, among others–
Jesus took on skin for us!
Emmanuel, God-with-us, resumes His tent-dwelling days, and He does it gladly.

Not only that, He comes as Son of David–
the first Son of David Who had the right to call God Father in the full sense of the word–
just as God had promised.

In addition to this physical reality,
to call someone “son of” someone (or something!) had a figurative meaning as well.
When Jesus called James and John “sons of thunder”, He wasn’t referring to Zebedee!
(see Mark 3:17–and just for the record, “Zebedee” means “gift of God”, not “thunder”!)
Nor was He speaking of physical parentage when He called the Pharisees sons of the devil (John 8:44). In each case, He meant that they were like their “father.”

Jesus, as Son of David, was like David–and like David’s glorious son, Solomon.
When Jesus came, we had no rest from our enemies on every side.
Demon possession was common
(less so now because of Baptism, but making a comeback as paganism increases)
and of course, our whole time on earth is a battle
“against the principalities and powers, the rulers of this world of darkness,
the evil spirits in regions above (Ephesians 6:12)
The Son of David came to fight for us, to win the ultimate war against evil.
That’s what the Passion was all about.
The decisive battle has been won.
Although we have to do our part,
through His death and resurrection, Jesus won for us the peace that passes all understanding (see Romans 6, Philippians 4:7).
He gave us rest from our enemies on every side.

Then He built a house for God, just as He had said He would!

I for My part declare that you are “Rock”
and on this rock I will build My Church
and the gates of hell will not prevail against it
-Matthew 16:18

First of all, He is the temple.

“Destroy this temple and in three days I will raise it up again”…
Actually He was talking about the temple of His body
-John 2:19, 22

But of course, His Body is the Church!

It is He Who is Head of the Body, the Church
-Colossians 3:18 (see also Ephesians 2:22-23, 5:23, etc.)

Three days after Jesus’ Body was destroyed (crucified) He raised it up again–
not only His flesh, but His Church.
After Pentecost, St. Luke tells us…

Day by day, the Lord added to the Church those who were being saved
-Acts 2:47

(many translations say “added to their number”, but the Greek word is “ecclesia”,
which means “Church”! Ironically enough, it was the King James translation
that tipped me off to that!–credit where credit is due…)

…you are…members of the household of God.
You form a building
which rises on the foundation of the apostles and prophets,
with Christ Jesus Himself as the cornerstone.
-Ephesians 2:19-20

Cornerstone…we just heard Jesus called by that title two days ago!

…Through Him the whole structure is fitted together
and takes shape as a holy temple in the Lord;
in Him you are being built into this temple,
to become a dwelling place for God in the Spirit.
-Ephesians 3:21-22

Wow! When God builds a house, He thinks BIG!
Not satisfied with dead rocks, He builds with living stones!

You too are living stones, built as an edifice of spirit
-I Peter 2:5

(No wonder this was too big a project for David!)

We, with all the saints who ever have lived and who ever will live
are all being built into God’s glorious temple.
We not only have a home, we are a home, together with God Himself!

No wonder He let the temple of Jerusalem be definitively destroyed in 70 A.D.,
never to be rebuilt! (See how He gave the temple worshipers 40 years after His resurrection
to repent, like Nineveh’s 40 days–see Jonah 2:4)
Beside the temple God had in mind, Herod’s structure of gold and cedar (magnificent as it was) was merely a distraction!

Today we herald the Savior Who gives us rest from our enemies on every side.
Today we celebrate the laying of the cornerstone of His unsurpassable temple.
Today we have a home.

May we be fit stones for so glorious a destiny!

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