Fourth Sunday of Advent - B Cycle - Luke 1:26-38
An African girl gave her teacher a gift. The teacher said, "You walked miles to get this." The girl replied, "Walking is part of the gift.
People speak of Christmas in July. Yet, it was in August 1993 that The New York Times excitedly gave us a Christmas gift about the House of David. An Israeli archaeologist had just "discovered a fragment of a stone monument with inscriptions bearing the first known reference outside the Bible to King David and the ruling dynasty he founded."
Why not research the family tree of Jesus whose birthday approaches? We will not have to dirty our hands in mud as the archaeologist did. Our information is in the Old Testament.
One does not require a massive brainpan to conclude that the awesome entry of God into the body of an itinerant preacher named Jesus of Nazareth was no hit and run accident. It was set from day one. For Him the long journey was part of the gift to us.
His birth of a teen-ager named Mary was the end of the promise made by God in the Bible's first pages. The promise was given to spaceship earth. God addressed the serpent in Genesis 3:15, "I will put enmities between you and the woman...She shall crush your head and you will lie in wait for her heel."
Centuries move on. The general promise of the Christ becomes more specific. It is placed in the care of the Semite people. They descended from Shem whose father was the famous Noah of the ark. The Semites developed into many nations - Israel, Arabia, Syria, and Jordan.
Of these Semitic nations, God selected one to whom Jesus' promise was given. That nation was Israel. The promise was given to Abraham, its founder: "Through you shall all the nations of the earth be blessed." The Jews were the chosen people.
Abraham gingerly passed the promise to his son Isaac. That young man married and he gave it to Jacob, his son. He proved to be a most fertile fellow. With a little help from his wife, he had twelve boys. Mr and Mrs Jacob felt they were cheaper by the dozen. Each son would found one of the twelve tribes of Israel.
To the tribe of Judah among the twelve was given the age-old promise of Christ. "The scepter shall not depart from Judah, nor the staff between his feet, until he comes to whom it belongs."
If you are still counting, the promise of Our Lord has been given by this point to spaceship earth, then the Semite people, the Jewish nation, and the tribe of Judah. Within the tribe of Judah, the promise was carefully given to the family of David.
The centuries passed in their happy and doleful fashion. Christ's long journey was coming to an end. A clue of this is found in the prophecy Isaiah, "A virgin shall conceive and bring forth a son. His name shall be called Emmanuel...God with us."
Then one special night the melancholy Roman emperor Caesar Augustus was finishing pasta with clam sauce and vino in his splendid palace along the polluted Tiber river in Rome. A gentleman called Quirinius was living it up as governor in Syria. Wonders of wonders, the global village that was earth was at peace. A peasant and his expectant wife were making a long journey to the town of Bethlehem. Or, as a poet put it, "The lady rode a donkey, the man walked, and the baby was in the lady."
There Mary gave birth to Jesus. He was the promise made flesh, God become Man. The infinite had at last become finite. Say you were a lab technician and were allowed by Mary to take DNA from the Baby's finger. You would discover He was a Semite out of the Jewish nation. Further, you would conclude He was of the tribe of Judah and, more exactly, of the family of David.
Talking of His mother, we might all want to remember the line of Meister Eckhart. "We are all meant to be mothers of God. He is always waiting to be born."
We ring down the curtain with the twenty-six hundred year old Jeremiah. "I will perform, saith the Lord, the good word I have spoken to the house of Israel and to the house of Judah...I will make the bud of justice to spring forth unto David...they shall call him the Lord our just one."
As a gift to Jesus, why not embrace Walt Whitman's advice?
"Love the earth, sun, and animals. Despise riches. Give alms to everyone. Stand up for the stupid and crazy. Devote your income and labor to others. Argue not about God."