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Tuesday, fourth week of Advent

December 20, 2011

Blessed Tuesday!

Here’s today’s O Antiphon:

O Key of David
And Scepter of the house of Israel
What You open, no one shuts
What You shut, no one opens
Come, deliver from the chains of prison
Those who sit in darkness
and in the shadow of death

Isaiah 22:22:
And I will lay the key of the house of David
upon his shoulder:
and he shall open, and none shall shut:
and he shall shut, and none shall open.

(see also Isaiah 9:6, 42:7, Revelation 3:7)

O God, eternal majesty, whose ineffable Word
the immaculate Virgin received through the message of an Angel
and so became the dwelling-place of divinity,
filled with the light of the Holy Spirit,
grant, we pray, that by her example
we may in humility hold fast to Your will.
Through our Lord Jesus Christ, Your Son,
who lives and reigns with You in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever.
(Opening prayer from today’s Mass)

Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14 (a virgin shall bear a son and name him Emmanuel)
Psalm 24:1-6 “Let the Lord enter; He is King of Glory”
+ Luke 1:26-38 (the Annunciation)

Now that the herald’s on his way, we look to the King Himself.

He’s got a problem.

It’s us.

It’s not our weaknesses and limitations.
He can handle those.

nothing is impossible to God
-Luke 1:37

His problem is our strength–more to the point,
it’s our insistence on relying on our own strength instead of His!

What limits God is not His own love,
but our willingness to accept His love.
It has been aptly said,
“It is not our misery that gets in God’s way,
but our importance.”
-Fr. Bartholomew Gottemoller

The whole point of our King’s coming is to rescue us, to benefit us, to fulfill us.
But we have to let Him.

That’s where King Ahaz, black sheep of the house of David, went wrong.
He had no use for God whatsoever.
If he heard of an idol, he worshipped it, even immolating his sons by fire (II Chronicles 28:2-4).
When the Arameans defeated him, he worshiped their gods.

Since it was the gods of the kings of Aram who helped them,
I will sacrifice to them that they may help me also
-II Chronicles 28:23

To add insult to injury, he set up this pagan altar in God’s holy temple (see II Kings 16:10-13)
and plundered the temple of its gold and silver in payment to his allies (II Chronicles 28:21).
He would rather rob God and trust men
–and even trust their gods!–
than submit to God and honor Him.

Yet God kept pursuing this clueless king.
He allowed disasters to strike as a wake-up call (II Chronicles 28:5).
He showed mercy by ordering the conquering army of Israel
to return the captives they’d taken from Judah (II Chronicles 28:15).
God even sent the prophet Isaiah to personally challenge Ahaz
to put Him to the test (Isaiah 7:11).

Ask for a sign from the Lord, your God;
let it be as deep as the nether word, or high as the sky!
-Isaiah 7:11

Ahaz refused,
much to God’s disgust:

Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary men,
must you also weary my God?
-Isaiah 7:13

He was as steadfast in his rejection of God
as God was steadfast in His love of Ahaz.

Even so, God would not be outdone.
Unable to rescue Ahaz from himself,
He would still demonstrate His steadfast love for His people
through a Son, born of a virgin,
whose very name would proclaim that God was with them (Isaiah 7:14).

O give thanks to the Lord, for He is good,
for His steadfast love endures for ever
-Psalm 136:1

Roughly 700 years later God again approached the house of David,
in the person of the Virgin of the prophesy.
Her weaknesses and limitations,
far from being obstacles,
were the very vehicle God used for our salvation.

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
-Luke 1:35

With her “fiat”,
the steadfast love of God
in the Person of the Holy Spirit
overshadowed her.
The Second Person of the Blessed Trinity
took on flesh in her womb.

The blessing King Ahaz rejected
Mary enfleshed.

All Heaven rejoiced!

This same King is coming to you.
Your misery is no problem.
Your self-reliance is.

May the humble Virgin of Nazareth
inspire whole-hearted receptivity to God’s extravagance
…to Heaven’s delight!

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