Hanging in the bedroom hallway of my Mom’s house is a framed graphic that says “With God, all things are possible.” That reminder has helped me to get through a number of times of uncertainty in my life. I thought about it as I was reading today’s Gospel, in which the angel, in response to Mary’s questions says, “For nothing will be impossible for God.” Today’s Liturgy is all about the coming Christ, meek child as he appears to be, becoming the Lord of our lives.
In the first reading, David has what seems to be a laudable plan. He has built a wonderful palace for himself, great king that he is, and he feels bad that the Ark of the Covenant still resides in the tent that it was in during the journey from Egypt. That’s not right to him, so he tells the prophet Nathan of his plan to build a great temple. Now, Nathan must have been having an off day, because although he initially tells David to go for it, he finds out in a dream that that is not God’s will at all.
Although David was a mighty king, and the one chosen by God at that, he has shed too much blood in the course of his work, and thus is unworthy to be the one to build the temple. His son Solomon, whose name comes from the word “shalom” or “peace,” is the one to build a temple, and he will do so later on. David himself hands this task on to Solomon later in the story. Once again David has learned that God is Lord, and he is not.
Mary has an experience of that too. She is visited by the angel Gabriel, and finds out that God has plans for her to be the mother of his only begotten Son. I love the line that tells her reaction to the news: “But she was greatly troubled at what was said and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.” That could well be the understatement of the eons! Thankfully, her faith makes her ready to accept God’s will even though she certainly does not completely understand it. The angel gives her news that even her aged relative Elizabeth is with child in her old age “for nothing will be impossible for God.”
I think we all have a temptation to forget this important lesson. We are not God; God is, and when we accept that in faith, our lives can be more peaceful. Instead though, and I’ll be honest and tell you I am certainly speaking for myself, instead we tend to want to direct all the action and call all the shots. We want control over our lives, and we want to see the big picture unfold the way we want it to unfold. Unfortunately, life isn’t like that. Things often go awry, or at least they go differently than we would have them. And that’s the time that we really need to give in and let God be in charge, since he is anyway.
During these late days of Advent, our Church recounts the “O Antiphons.” There is an “O Antiphon” for each day from December 17th through the 24th. These antiphons are titles of Jesus, and they are sung each evening during Vespers, as the antiphon for the Canticle of Mary. Today’s “O Antiphon” is “O Sacred Lord.” In Vespers, the full antiphon goes like this:
O Sacred Lord of ancient Israel,
who showed yourself to Moses in the burning bush,
who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain:
Come, stretch out your mighty hand to set us free.
Each of these O Antiphons corresponds to a verse in the song, “O Come, O Come, Emmanuel.” So today’s verse is this one:
O Come, O Come, Thou Lord of might,
who to thy tribes on Sinai’s height
in ancient times didst give the law,
in cloud, and majesty, and awe.
We wait for the coming of our Savior in these Advent days. We know that his coming will eventually bring us salvation and peace, in God’s time. We can have some of that peace, I think, when we let God be the Sacred Lord of our lives. We can get a glimpse of the salvation that awaits us if we let God be God and remember that we are not God.
Today, our Sacred Lord can be the one who comes in power to give us salvation and peace. Salvation and peace can be ours if we open our hearts to his presence among us. Come, O Sacred Lord! Come, Lord Jesus!