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4th Sunday of Advent, Dec.

18, 2011 (2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38) In the reading from II Samuel, highly favorable to David, he and his descendants are promised an eternal kingdom before the Lord. It begins with David wanting to build a house for the Lord but ends with the Lord promising to establish a house (a dynasty) for David and his descendants. Included in this scene is the tradition of David as shepherd (It was I who took you from pasture and from the care of the flock). The central role of the Lord throughout this rendition of the familys past and future greatness is also established here. Thus, we see the repeated use of the first person singular for what I (the Lord) did, especially in verses eight through twelve. In all things it is the Lord who acts in directing the destiny of this people and this king. There would come a time when hopes for this eternal kingdom in the family line of David would all but disappear, after the Babylonian Exile. There was a short period of about 100 years from about 165 BC until 63 BC, when Israel enjoyed quasi independence before the Romans seized control. From then until the end of the Roman Empire the Holy Land was under the thumb of Roman rule. It was into this Roman-ruled Holy Land that Jesus was born and Luke begins to narrate a tale about that birth with this announcement to Mary in Sundays Gospel. Luke says that Joseph was of the house of David which would go a long way toward establishing Jesus as son of David later on in the Gospel. This was important for those who expected the Messiah to come from the family of David. This Annunciation scene involves the angel Gabriel and Mary. The angel greets Mary (Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you). Mary reacts with confusion (She was greatly troubled). The angel says Do not be afraid. But then the angel announces that she will conceive a child. The angel does not say when this will happen. Marys reaction is curious. Knowing she is a virgin, she is even more befuddled by the angels message about a pregnancy (How can this be, since I have no relations with a man?), rather than with what the angel had told her about what would happen to this child (He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High). Her question is odd since women of that time expected to or hoped to bear children. Why should she have been surprised to hear she will have a child? Its as though she missed a good deal of the announcement, once she started thinking about being pregnant. I suppose there are many women who have heard a lot of words said following the announcement of a pregnancy, who never really let anything sink in after Youre pregnant. The shock, always no doubt with a mixture of joy and

apprehension, upon hearing of a pregnancy, is one of those things that provide a timeless link with the past. One could hardly fault the Blessed Mother for staggering a little at the announcement. And of course she recovers enough by the end to say May it be done according to your word. Coming so close to the celebration of Christmas, this tender scene of a woman caught unawares by the announcement that she is pregnant, becomes an intimate link between women of every period of history and the Blessed Mother. This is so especially for mothers, who can so readily identify with Mary in her confusion, in her shock, but ultimately in her acceptance of the Word.

Fr. Lawrence Hummer