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Sunday, December 24, 2023
Fourth Sunday of Advent,

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jesus-3315362_1280 grace love bible.png

God keeps the promise made to David to give him an everlasting throne. The angel tells Mary that God will give David’s throne to her son Jesus. She is perplexed by Gabriel’s greeting and by the news of her coming pregnancy, but she is able still to say, “Count me in.” We who know that Jesus is called king only as he is executed still find it a mystery hard to fathom, but with Mary today we hear the news of what God is up to and say, “Count us in.”

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Image by Shane Lowry from Pixabay

Sundays and Seasons

First Reading: 2 Samuel 7:1-11, 16

Instead of David building a house (temple) for God, God promises to establish David’s house (dynasty) forever. Centuries later, after the Babylonian exile, no king sat on the throne. Even then, however, the people of Israel remembered this promise and continued to hope for a king, the messiah, God’s anointed.

1Now when the king was settled in his house, and the Lord had given him rest from all his enemies around him, 2the king said to the prophet Nathan, “See now, I am living in a house of cedar, but the ark of God stays in a tent.” 3Nathan said to the king, “Go, do all that you have in mind; for the Lord is with you.”
 4But that same night the word of the Lord came to Nathan: 5Go and tell my servant David: Thus says the Lord: Are you the one to build me a house to live in? 6I have not lived in a house since the day I brought up the people of Israel from Egypt to this day, but I have been moving about in a tent and a tabernacle. 7Wherever I have moved about among all the people of Israel, did I ever speak a word with any of the tribal leaders of Israel, whom I commanded to shepherd my people Israel, saying, “Why have you not built me a house of cedar?” 8Now therefore thus you shall say to my servant David: Thus says the Lord of hosts: I took you from the pasture, from following the sheep to be prince over my people Israel; 9and I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name, like the name of the great ones of the earth. 10And I will appoint a place for my people Israel and will plant them, so that they may live in their own place, and be disturbed no more; and evildoers shall afflict them no more, as formerly, 11from the time that I appointed judges over my people Israel; and I will give you rest from all your enemies. Moreover the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house. 16Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure forever before me; your throne shall be established forever.

Psalm: Luke 1:46b-55

You, Lord, have lifted up the lowly. (Lk. 1:52)

 46bMy soul proclaims the greatness | of the Lord,
  47my spirit rejoices in | God my Savior,
 48for you, Lord, have looked with favor on your | lowly servant.
  From this day all generations will | call me blessed:
 49you, the Almighty, have done great | things for me
  and holy | is your name.
 50You have mercy on | those who fear you,
  from generation to | generation. R
 51You have shown strength | with your arm
  and scattered the proud in | their conceit,
 52casting down the mighty | from their thrones
  and lifting | up the lowly.
 53You have filled the hungry | with good things
  and sent the rich | away empty.
 54You have come to the aid of your | servant Israel,
  to remember the prom- | ise of mercy,
 55the promise made | to our forebears,
  to Abraham and his chil- | dren forever. R

Psalm (alternate): Psalm 89:1-4, 19-26

Your love, O Lord, forever will I sing. (Ps. 89:1)

 1Your love, O Lord, forever | will I sing;
  from age to age my mouth will pro- | claim your faithfulness.
 2For I am persuaded that your steadfast love is estab- | lished forever;
  you have set your faithfulness firmly | in the heavens.
 3“I have made a covenant with my | chosen one;
  I have sworn an oath to Da- | vid my servant:
 4‘I will establish your | line forever,
  and preserve your throne for all | generations.’ ” R
 19You spoke once in a vision and said to your | faithful people:
  “I have set the crown upon a warrior and have exalted one chosen out | of the people.
 20I have found Da- | vid my servant;
  with my holy oil have I a- | nointed him.
 21My hand will | hold him fast
  and my arm will | make him strong.
 22No enemy | shall deceive him,
  nor shall the wicked | bring him down.
 23I will crush his | foes before him
  and strike down | those who hate him.
 24My faithfulness and steadfast | love are with him,
  and he shall be victorious | through my name.
 25I will set his hand | on the sea,
  and his right hand | on the rivers.
 26He will say to me, ‘You | are my father,
  my God, and the rock of | my salvation.’ R

Second Reading: Romans 16:25-27

Paul closes his letter to the Romans by praising God because, in the proclamation of the gospel of Jesus Christ, God has revealed the promised, divine plan of salvation for all humanity. Paul proclaims this gospel of Christ in order to bring about the obedience of faith among all nations.

25Now to God who is able to strengthen you according to my gospel and the proclamation of Jesus Christ, according to the revelation of the mystery that was kept secret for long ages 26but is now disclosed, and through the prophetic writings is made known to all the Gentiles, according to the command of the eternal God, to bring about the obedience of faith—27to the only wise God, through Jesus Christ, to whom be the glory forever! Amen.

Gospel: Luke 1:26-38

In this annunciation, Luke makes clear that God comes with good news for ordinary people from little known places. This king will not be born to royalty in a palace, but to common folk in a stall. Here Luke highlights the role of the Spirit, a special emphasis in this gospel.

26In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, 27to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. 28And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” 29But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. 30The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. 31And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. 32He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David. 33He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” 34Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” 35The angel said to her, “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 holy; he will be called Son of God. 36And now, your relative Elizabeth in her old age has also conceived a son; and this is the sixth month for her who was said to be barren. 37For nothing will be impossible with God.” 38Then Mary said, “Here am I, the servant of the Lord; let it be with me according to your word.” Then the angel departed from her.

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