The Path of Life

The Path of Life

Sunday, December 18, 2011

Surprise! Surprise! Surprise!

Sunday, Dec. 18, 2011
4th Sunday of Advent—B

2Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16
Romans 16:25-27
Luke 1:26-38

“We plan; God laughs,” as the saying goes.

Even with the best of intentions and at our most virtuous, we still cannot begin to imagine the wonderful things God has in store for each one of us. “What eye has not seen and ear has not heard, and what has not entered the human heart, what God has prepared for those who love him, this God has revealed to us through the Spirit” (1Corinthians 2:9-10).

Adam and Eve sin, distorting God’s image in humanity.

SURPRISE!!! “I will send a Redeemer,” God says (cf. Genesis 3:15).

Abraham and Sarah grow old without children of their own.

SURPRISE!!!  “I will give you a son,” God says, Isaac [which in Hebrew means laugh, by the way]. “And your descendants shall be great” (cf. Genesis 21:1-8; 22:17).

The Israelites are enslaved in Egypt, then freed through the hand of Moses, but then face certain doom in the desert, trapped between the Red Sea and their Egyptian pursuers.

SURPRISE!!!  “I will part the sea so you can cross and fight for you,” God says. (cf. Exodus 14:10-31).

The Israelites are freed, but are still hungry in the desert, and resigned to dying of starvation.

SURPRISE!!!  “I will rain down bread from heaven,” God says. (cf. Exodus 16:4).

King David decides to build a permanent home for the Ark of God’s Covenant.

SURPRISE!!!  “It is I who will build a house for you, and your kingdom shall last forever,” God says. (cf. today’s first reading).

Jerusalem is besieged, the temple looted and destroyed, the people exiled to Babylon.

SURPRISE!!!  “I will free you,” God says. “Through my servant whom I uphold, my chosen one with whom I am pleased, I will lead you back, rebuild you, comfort you, redeem you, espouse you, give you a new name, rejoice in you.” (cf. Isaiah 7:14; 9:5-6; 40; 42; 49; 53; 61; 62).

A young, virgin peasant, betrothed to a man named Joseph, of the house of David, goes about her daily duties without notice.

SURPRISE!!! SURPRISE!!!  SURPRISE!!! (apologies to Gomer Pyle) “Hail, Mary, full of grace! The Lord is with you,” says the angel Gabriel. “Through the Holy Spirit, you will conceive and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus, Son of the Most High, and his kingdom will last forever” (cf. today’s Gospel reading). And God becomes man, born in a lonely, shabby stable and placed in a manger from which animals feed.

Jesus grows, calls disciples, preaches, teaches, cures and heals, works great miracles, blesses, forgives sins, raises the dead, confronts and confounds religious leaders. Then he is betrayed, abandoned, imprisoned, mocked, scourged, crucified, and put to death as a common criminal as his disciples scatter in fear, sorrow, and desolation.

SURPRISE!!!  “Why are you weeping? Whom are you looking for?” asks the Resurrected Christ, before ascending to the Father and then sending the Spirit upon his disciples. “Go make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit, teaching them to observe all that I have commanded you. I am with you always, until the end of the age.” (cf. John 20:15; Matthew 28:19-20).

God’s Word to us in Scripture has been fulfilled, but has not been exhausted. Great surprises await each one of us if we are open to receive them—our small part in God’s great plan for all of humanity in building up the Body of Christ. Think you have it figured out? Think again! God alone has the final word, and he laughs.

SURPRISE!!!  “Yes I am coming soon” (cf. Revelation 22:20).

As Gomer Pyle would say: "Shazam!"

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