God’s true dwelling place revealed in Jesus
By: By Shawn Reeves
Fourth Sunday of Advent/Dec. 21
2 Samuel 7:1-5,8b-12,14a,16; Psalm 89:2-3,4-5,27,29; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38
Unlike King David, I do not live in a grand house of cedar, but if I did, I’m pretty certain I’d still end up performing endless home repairs. It seems there is no end to the maintenance required on our home, and the memory of my first major jaunt into the world of home repair is indelibly etched into my recollection.
We were of little means and so we could only afford a home of little means, which meant that things such as the full bathroom were not in the best condition. The whole thing needed to be gutted and rebuilt, and with quivering resolve, I hoped I’d prove the man to do it. After the first few whacks of my hammer, I looked at the fallen shards of old and worn tiles, and a feeling of dread came over me. The immensity of the monumental task overwhelmed me as I uttered, “What have I done?”
Eventually, I successfully remodeled the entire room. Not long after that, however, I would find the next necessary repair nagging me and there I was, restless again. There were always greater things to do. Certainly, it seems that David, once he was “settled” and enjoyed the rest that the Lord had given him from his enemies, grew restless again. There is more to do, more to establish — a house for the Lord is needed.
God contests that idea, saying, “Should you build me a house to dwell in?” God reminds him that it was not David who was the origin of his blessings, but God. It was not David who secured his providence, but the Lord. What need does God have for mankind to build Him a dwelling? God, not mankind, is the originator of rest and security. God shall give rest to David, not David to God.
MARY’S RESPONSE IS KEY
Oftentimes our attitude is foreshadowed in King David’s, and his expectation that he must design all things on God’s behalf is echoed in us. I’m a planner. I see what needs to be done, and I chase after it. I forecast problems and contemplate contingencies, and in all my planning I am often restless — restless like David. A place needs to be fixed for Israel.
Affliction needs to be undone. A house needs to be established and a kingdom must endure. Are these not the ancient equivalences of our own modern concerns? How do we preserve what we have built? How do we grasp permanence and claim the incorruptible as our own? How do we ensure the success of God’s works?
Ultimately God reminds us that He has been the supreme guiding architect of our destiny and has “been with you wherever you went.”
We should not marvel that David insisted on doing God’s work. Instead, we should marvel that Mary did not. “How shall I cause this kingdom to endure and how am I to create a dwelling place for God?” are David’s questions.
“How am I to submit to God’s might who will surely establish a temple and kingdom for Himself?” is Mary’s. She did not plan out the details of salvation but simply replied, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word,” and expected it to unfold as God’s wisdom has designed.
Eventually, a Temple is built by David’s son, Solomon, but it would only be a shadow and glimpse of God’s true dwelling place among men — the humanity of Jesus. “A mystery kept secret for long ages but now manifested,” the body and soul of our savior would be found to be the temple David longed for, constructed not of stone by man but of flesh crafted by God.
In Jesus, God’s “house” is erected, a son is born, and David’s kingdom is established without end. Let us sing the goodness of the Lord.
SHAWN REEVES has served as the director of religious education at St. John’s Catholic Newman Center in Champaign since 2001. He and his family are members of St. Malachy Parish in Rantoul.