Liturgical Colour : Purple/Violet
Dear brothers and sisters in Christ, today we listened to the joy of the expectation of God’s coming glory and salvation for His people, as we are about to celebrate the vigil of Christmas tonight. Today, the Scripture readings help us to reflect on the true joy of Christmas, that is the expectation of the coming of the salvation in our God, Who has come into the world, in the person of Jesus Christ, Son of God, Heir of David and Messiah or Saviour of all.
In the first reading today, taken from the Book of the prophet Samuel, we heard of the conversation between the prophet Nathan and king David of Israel, during the latter years of his reign, after God has helped him to defeat all of his enemies and conquered the neighbouring peoples who once were threats to the Israelites. David wondered why he was housed in a magnificent palace, and yet, God’s Ark of the Covenant, remained in a tent, the Holy Tent of Meeting.
So David wanted to build a house for God, a Temple, for the Ark to be placed inside, as the sign of God’s presence among His people. He presented his plans before the prophet Nathan, but God had a different plan in His will, which He revealed through Nathan to David. David would not be the one to build a house for Him, but rather a son of his, who would reign after him, would be the one to build a house for Him.
This seems to be fulfilled by the son of David, king Solomon, who built for God a great Temple, known in history as the Temple of Solomon, built from the finest material and consecrated with a great ceremony, as written in the Book of Kings. The Ark of the Covenant was brought into the Temple, and God’s glory and presence entered into the Temple, filling it, and ever since then, until the destruction of the Temple in the year 586 BC by the Babylonians, God was present among His people Israel.
But the Lord in fact also alluded to the promise which He has made to David, that his house and descendants will reign forever, and his kingdom will never end. This was fulfilled because one of the descendants of David, through Joseph, his direct descendant and heir after many generations, was none other than the promised Messiah, Jesus Christ, the Son of God and Son of Man, Heir of David and his kingdom.
Jesus Himself mentioned before the Pharisees and the teachers of the Law, how He would destroy the Temple in three days and then rebuild it again, alluding to Himself as the true Temple of God’s glory and presence. The Pharisees and the teachers of the Law did not understand this, and thought that it would have been impossible for Jesus to tear down the physical Temple of Jerusalem, the second temple built at the site, by the priest and prophet Ezra and later enlarged by king Herod.
The Lord Jesus Himself is the one and only Temple of God, for by His incarnation, He took up for Himself a human existence in the flesh, that in His person, is united two distinct and yet indivisible persona of the divine and the man, His divinity and His humanity, perfectly united in His person, Our Lord Jesus Christ, both Son of God and Son of Man. He is the Heir of David, and as God said to David through Nathan, his heir would be the one to build the Temple for God, and this was fulfilled completely in Christ.
Thus, at that time, king David could only anticipate and look forward for the coming of the Lord, which he could not witness during his own time, and yet, through the Holy Spirit, was told to him. The Messiah, God’s Saviour would be born into his house, among his descendants. And that coming of the Messiah was awaited by all those who have been enthralled by sin, that is all of us mankind.
Then, Zechariah, the father of St. John the Baptist was the one whom we heard from in the Gospel passage today, in his song, inspired and filled by the Holy Spirit, also known as the Canticle of Zechariah. It was a song expressing a great joy, of knowing that the Messiah Who has been long expected and awaited by God’s people, was finally about to come, and how great Zechariah’s joy, of being able to witness that glorious event, and having his own son as the herald for the coming of the Messiah.
Brothers and sisters in Christ, what the Scripture readings today presented us, is the great joy that accompanies our celebration of Christmas, not because of all the parties, shopping and goods, all of the merchandises and Santa Claus, as well as any other secular and materialistic celebrations of Christmas, but instead that hope and light that had come with the coming of Christ into this world, that through Him, all of us who believe in Him will not perish, but have eternal life.
Let us all today, as we finish our preparation to welcome Christ into our midst this Christmas, turn towards God with all of our strength and with all of our hearts and minds focused on Him. Let us celebrate this Christmas with Christ Himself at the centre of our celebrations and as the source of our great joy. Let us all have a meaningful Christmas, knowing that through Him, we can hope again and receive eternal life and glory from Him Who loves us all.
May the Lord bless us and our Christmas joy, and may all of us come to greater realisation of the true meaning and importance of Christmas for each and every one of us. Amen.