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A reading from the Holy Gospel of Saint Luke + (May the Word of the Lord be in my mind, on my lips, and in my heart).
In the sixth month the angel Gabriel was sent by God to a town in Galilee called Nazareth, to a virgin engaged to a man whose name was Joseph, of the house of David. The virgin’s name was Mary. And he came to her and said, “Greetings, favored one! The Lord is with you.” But she was much perplexed by his words and pondered what sort of greeting this might be. The angel said to her, “Do not be afraid, Mary, for you have found favor with God. And now, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you will name him Jesus. He 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. He will reign over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.” Mary said to the angel, “How can this be, since I am a virgin?” The 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. And 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. For nothing will be impossible with God.” Then 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.

The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you, Lord Christ!

From the beginning of Hebrew Scriptures, that Christians call the Old Testament, works that are at least 3000 years old, we are told the covenant of God with the Chosen People of Israel is based on three factors: God, the tribes, and the land. To explain these three factors further, God established a covenant with the people. He commanded belief in one Supreme God. The people were not to worship false Gods like pagans. Secondly, God established His heritage through 12 tribes of people that were related to Abraham and Sarah, the founders of the clan. As we know, Sarah’s birth of this nation was miraculous as she was unable to have

children and was possibly 80 years old. Thirdly, God led the people to a special land of His

promise. The people were expected to care for the land – their vocation was to be farmers and shepherds and live in peace with others. In the Bible, we are reminded of miracles stories of the birth of children that continue the ancestry of Abraham and Sarah. Raising children, respect for family life, was critical to God’s covenant.
With this background, along comes our first reading from Samuel. Samuel is an

excellent example of prophecy in the Old Testament tradition. As the people of Israel evolved over hundreds of years, as the tribes grew in number, as their faith in God was sometimes
shaken but mostly deepened, God chose a leader among the tribes named David. Samuel tells us his story in the Bible. This text of Samuel is probably around 2,700 years old. Prophets rose in the nation of Israel to remind the people of the importance of their covenant with God.
Prophets did not tell the future but rather interpreted the message of God for the people. In David’s reign, a prophet named Nathan became an important member of his court. As we know, prophets said God would keep his promise of leading the Nation forever and that a Messiah or Savior would extend from the ancestry of David. In today’s reading, David is
concerned that the Ark of the Covenant that contains the original 10 commandments is kept in a meager tent. David wants to build a beautiful temple to house the ark of God’s word. Now Nathan has a dream about David’s plan. Nathan interprets the dream that God does not care about earthly temples. Instead, God is concerned about people – about his Divine House on earth, the ancestry of the 12 tribes that He cared for from of old. God assures David that His Divine House will extend from his family. Basically, God tells David to keep his priorities straight and remember the ancient covenant – love God, care for others, tend the land.

In today’s Psalm 89, we read, “I have made a covenant with my chosen one; I have

sworn an oath to David my servant: ‘I will establish your line for ever and preserve your throne for all generations.’” As Christians, we believe the Promise is fulfilled in Jesus.
We fast forward hundreds of years to the Gospel of Luke. We have another miracle birth story as Mary is told by an angel that she will bear a son and name him Jesus. In Hebrew his
name is Y’oshua – or in Greek Joshua – a name that means “the Lord saves.” In Luke’s Gospel, the prophecy of Nathan is fulfilled as God delivers his Savior, extended from the lineage of David to a virgin in Nazareth. God keeps His promise of the covenant from long ago and God uses His power to remain true to the people who believe in Him.
As I shared earlier, the Bible contains numerous miracle birth stories of people, who for one reason or another, could not have children. Again, God always places people first. God loves his people and uses his power to keep his promise of love always moving forward in time, while keeping His promises of old.
When my wife Rose and I were first married, we wanted many children. I told Rose I wanted my own baseball infield of four children. She thought I was kidding – I wasn’t. As time passed, the dreams of many children began to grow dimmer. One year passed and then two – month after month went by and no conception. We went to many doctors to learn what was wrong and to conceive a baby. After three more years, we met with a specialist who told us we both had infertility problems and we should learn to accept that family could mean just Rose and me. We talked. We cried. We prayed. We couldn’t accept that God would not provide at least one child for us to love. Another year went by, more specialists and this time, surgery as well. Months went by and still no conception. We had about given up and went on a religious

retreat for couples. We shared with the priest on retreat about our infertility. The last night of the retreat, he asked us to step forward and prayed over us. He asked everyone at the service to pray that we would conceive a child. The next day, Sunday, we drove home, and Rose felt strongly that something was different. Rose said, “I don’t know what feeling pregnant is like, but I feel pregnant.” Half on a whim and half on faith, we went to the only 24-hour medical clinic in the area. The nurse took a blood test and a few minutes later, told us the news that Rose was pregnant. The rest is history as the handsome young man named Luke Anthony is
now 35 years old. We were not able to have more children, but I guarantee you we are grateful for God’s miracle of one.
The gift of Luke is one more sign to me that God’s power is active and alive in the world. The power of faith and prayer is immense and changes the world. Sometimes God answers our prayers quickly and other times, it takes years. In King David’s world, it took generations, but God always keeps his promise. Our job is to keep faith, live well, and believe in God’s love.
Today marks the last day of Advent – a time of renewal, a time where God keeps his promises. This weekend, perhaps pray that God will give you more faith to keep your part of
the Promise. God knows we are imperfect. God knows we are sinners. God knows that even in our best efforts we fall short of Eden. Yet, as Christ-bearers, as people of the Promise, we have the chance to make each day a moment of faith, hope and love. We also get the chance to seek God again in eternity. God isn’t going anywhere. In God’s reality of Advent, we live in today – not yesterday – because God places all our sins behind us. We live in today – not tomorrow – because as people of faith, we believe God holds our future in His loving hands. God knows the

future and we do not. As people of the Promise, we may trust that God knows what He is doing.
Mother Mary taught us Advent is about experiencing and choosing God as the joy of our soul – the center of our being. We must choose joy and faith over fear and doubt, especially in this season because fear and doubt are not the Promise of Advent. The Promise of Advent is that God is with us always and He saves us from our sins. As people of the Promise of Advent, we are called to trust our past to God’s mercy and our future to God’s providence. Through our great tradition and faith, we may hold God’s Promise in our hands by receiving the Eucharist
with a grateful, reverent, and humble heart. Receiving Jesus in the Eucharist is a real moment of intimacy between God and us. Holy Communion is like God’s signature to the Promise.
I close with this reminder. The Promise of Advent is also that God believes in us. He shapes our lives through everyday moments of faith, prayer, and good works. Our end of the promise is to believe back; to hold deeply that God loves us very much because we are made in His image – the same human image of His Son brought to us by a devoted Mother. We are now free to carry His love to other people in unique and special ways befitting our own personality. God promises us we will not be disappointed in choosing the spiritual life of joy. Every day is a New Advent – a renewal of the Promise of mutual love and fidelity between God and us. Others may break their promises to us, but God keeps His promises. Our lives are not a series of coincidences but moments of God-incidences that build to eternity. For today, let us believe that we wait in joyful hope for the coming of our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ. I hope you enjoyed this message and I pray for you to live an abundant life in our Savior.

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