December 21st, 2014, Fourth Sunday of Advent
Discussion Questions for Reading 1Why do we call churches "the house of God?" What are the meanings of the word "dwell?" Where else does God dwell? How does David show his deep respect for God? How does showing respect for our churches show respect for God? Why do you feel that church is a very special place to be?
Reading 1 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-12, 14, 16
Reading 1 ReflectionThis first reading tells about King David of Israel, an ancestor of Jesus. David did great things for his people; he established his capital in Jerusalem and brought there the Ark of the Covenant. The ark contained the two stone tablets of the Ten Commandments and was kept in a tent that was considered the "house" of God. David felt ashamed to be living in a palace while the ark of God was kept in a tent. He wished to build a house for God, but instead God promised that David's rule and family would last forever: "Your house and your kingdom shall endure forever before me."
We should share David's respect for God and place the concerns of God before our own. Jesus himself came homeless into the world; there was no room for him in the inn at Bethlehem. Let us make room for him in our hearts this Christmas.
Discussion Questions for Reading 2What is this "mystery hidden for many ages?" How is this mystery finally revealed or manifested? To whom does St. Paul say the mystery is made known? What are some of the comings of Jesus into our lives? How can we keep Jesus at the center of our Christmas celebration? What are some distractions that surround Christmas in our world today?
Reading 2 Romans 16:25-27
Reading 2 ReflectionIn this reading Saint Paul praises God for at last revealing Jesus Christ through the prophets and the gospel to all believers and to people of all nations. Let us praise and thank God for the priceless gift of faith in Jesus Christ, "the mystery kept secret for long ages." Let us welcome Jesus with deep faith at his birth among us and at all his "comings" into our lives.
The angel reassures Mary. What reassurance does Christmas bring to you?
Discussion Questions for GospelMary does not understand all that God was asking of her. What is the sentence in Luke's gospel that tells us this? What three comforting words did the angel speak to her? What did Mary respond to the angel that says she was willing to do God's will? How can we listen to God who speaks to us in different ways?
Gospel Luke 1:26-38
Gospel ReflectionIn today's reading about the annunciation, an angel tells Mary that she is to be the mother of Jesus. The angel recalls the prophecy to David that we saw in the first reading. "The Lord God will give him the throne of David his father. He will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end." Mary does not understand this great mystery but accepts God's will humbly: "I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me . . . ."
There may be times when God will ask of us things we do not completely understand. Mary's openness to God's will can help us. We should pray lovingly and gratefully to Mary for the blessings she helps bring to us.