Reading I 2 Samuel 7:11-5, 8-12, 14, 16
Psalm 89:2-5, 27-29
Reading II Romans 16:25-27
Gospel Luke 1:26-38
How do you and I deal with the unexpected? The unexpected happens all the time. Sometimes it’s a positive, sometimes it’s a negative. But the important question is: How do we deal with it?
In the Scriptures this morning we saw in the first reading those unexpected events: angels, and voices and whispers were coming into people. When David was chosen — he was not to be the chosen one. But Samuel was told, “Don’t take anyone until I tell you, and you will know when you have the right person.” And when David was chosen — that became the House of David.
In the Gospel: When the angel Gabriel told Mary that she was going to have a child, she was betrothed to a man by the name of Joseph who was of the House of David. This is extremely important and it is not a play on words because this House of David is extremely important in our faith. When we talk about the House of David we are not talking about a building, we are talking about a people. And Jesus reminds us, “My whole message to you is filled with mystery.”
Mary was told, “Don’t get upset and just remember your cousin Elizabeth is having a child and she’s way beyond the age of bearing children. So you’re not the only one in my plan.”
So when we look at Joseph and Mary, Zachariah and Elizabeth, and then look back at David — we realize they were all dealing with the unexpected in their lives.
Then, you and I need to look at our own lives.
What brings us here this morning? The answer is: Because we are the House of David.
We are the people of God. How does that resonate with us, and how does the unexpected play out in each one of our lives? I am sure the unexpected has happened for you, and probably many times over.
I remember one time I was asked to come to a meeting. I didn’t know who was going to show up. I got there and it was a group of priests. Someone said, “One of you has to become director of this program.”
You know how it goes — everyone looks at each other and thinks, “Well, he can do it, or, she can do it. And I don’t want to do it.” So we went around the circle and each person had to say why he should not do it, or, if he should, or would do it. No one said, “I’d love to do that.”
We kept sitting there and sitting there and finally I said, “I’d be willing to give it a chance, but before I say yes, we are all going into the Cathedral and we are going to sit in prayer for thirty minutes.”
We came back and I asked, “Well, what’s your decision?” And they told me, “Well, just know that if you accept this you must resign the parish where you are pastor and you will have to find a place to live.”
I thought, “Wow.”
Anyway I accepted it. It was interesting trying to find a place to live. I learned what it means to be homeless a little bit. It was like, “Will you take me in? Can I live there?”
They told me I had to live somewhere all by myself so that as priests came to me, no would see them, and no one would have any conversation with them other than me. So I ended up living in a hospital. Life goes on. I was not expecting that moment to take place.
Now look at your own lives. You’ve had many of these unexpected moments. A young person can be dating all kinds of people then, “Why did you end up choosing this one?”
“I don’t really know. He, or she, just seems to be the right person.”
When two people conceive a child the couple wants that perfect child. But even if the child is perfect, the child has to live out his or her life and everything about that life is with the unexpected.
Jesus is saying to all of us, “It really comes down to knowing that if you belong to the House of David there are certain things that really support every decision of your life.”
We talk about being stewards of God’s gifts.
The first thing is prayer. Prayer has to be in every decision that you and I make. I don’t care how large the decision is, or how small the decision is — prayer just needs to be in there. And it doesn’t mean saying rosaries all day long. If you remember a couple of weeks ago we were told to pray without ceasing. What that simply means, “I know at a given moment — when I need to ask God, or thank God, or be present to God — that God will always be asking something of me.”
The next is the gift of hospitality. How do we welcome each other? How do we pray for each other? It doesn’t mean sticking our nose in someone else’s business, just “I don’t need to know the details, I just want you to know you are in my prayers.”
This comes through every experience of life and that is why, every year, the church goes through these four weeks of Advent. Do you know that every Advent is different, and that this Advent of 2014 is different from any Advent any of us have ever experienced? God is going to speak to each one of us — just as he spoke to David, and to Mary, Joseph, Zachariah and Elizabeth.
Then God says, “My house is built on service. I want you to pay attention and remember what my Son did at the last supper. If you want to understand me, and you want to know how to listen to me — you must certainly know how to wash feet. You need to know how to serve each other and be present to each other and that does not mean through difficult times, it means all the time — during the greatest joys in life, or the greatest sorrow.”
Families gather when there is a wedding. Families gather when there is a funeral. We all know the rhythm of life. And so Jesus asks of us this morning, “Are you ready for the unexpected?”
He ‘s not going to set you up for failure. All he is saying is, “Are you ready? And don’t be alarmed because the path I am going to take you on is never going to be a straight path, and it is never going to be a smooth path. Sometimes it is going to take you winding around, and sometimes you are going to be on a super highway. But just know when you are walking on that path you are walking in my footprints. I’ve gone before you. I understand the mess you are in, I understand all the joy you are in. And I am the only one. So please trust me.”
This morning Gabriella is going to be baptized into the House of David — the House that Mary said “yes” to, the House that Jesus said “yes” to, the House that you and I say “yes” to.
This is what prepares us for Christmas. It would be nice if everybody would ask, “What are you doing for Christmas? “
“Our family is going to go to church.”
“Oh, really. Where are you going to eat? Where are you going to have a party? Where are you going to have the gifts?”
“No. First, we’re going to go to church as a family.”
For every church, Episcopalian, Presbyterian, non-denominational, people are saying, “We’re going to go to church.”
If you’ve noticed, one of the differences between the Catholic faith and other faiths is that the Catholics always go to church on Christmas. In the past, most denominations did not hold services on Christmas.
I went to a Methodist church one time and did a wedding the Saturday before Christmas and I walked in and the poinsettias and all the decorations were all in place. I said, “You guys really decorate early.”
And they answered, “Well, you’ve got to remember we’re different than you. This weekend is going to be our Christmas. We don’t hold any services on Christmas.”
However, today more and more churches are having candlelight services on Christmas Eve.
People are starting to come back to celebrate the birthday of Jesus, and there is no better way to deal with the unexpected than to gather with the House of David in prayer.
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Monsignor Michael Kuse is pastor of Blessed Sacrament Parish in Quincy, Illinois.