December 22, 2017

Fourth Sunday of Advent / Msgr. Owen F. Campion

The Sunday Readings

Msgr. Owen CampionThe first reading for Mass on the Fourth Sunday of Advent is from the Second Book of Samuel. Once, the two Books of Samuel were a single volume. Translations and editions over the centuries divided this one volume into two.

David is the principal figure in these books. The ancient Hebrews looked upon David as much more than a king. Beyond all else, he was God’s chosen representative, given the kingship so that laws and circumstances would provide an atmosphere in which the people more fervently would follow God and be loyal to the covenant.

For this weekend’s second reading, the Church offers us a reading from St. Paul’s Epistle to the Romans, which is considered Paul’s theological masterpiece.

As indicated by its title, Paul sent this epistle to the faithful of the Church in Rome. In the first century, Rome was the center of the Mediterranean world in every respect—political, economic and cultural. It was also the largest city in the Roman Empire. Not surprisingly, Rome, the great imperial capital, had within its borders a great array of ideas and religions, Christianity among them.

In this weekend’s reading, as often elsewhere, Paul asserts his own vocation as an Apostle. His vocation from God came so that “all the nations” might believe in and obey “the only wise God” (Rom 16:26-27).

For the final reading this weekend, the Church proclaims a beautiful passage from St. Luke’s Gospel. It is the story of the annunciation, the event when the angel Gabriel came into the presence of Mary in Nazareth to inform her that she would be the mother of the long-awaited Redeemer.

The reading abounds with meaning. Luke makes clear that Mary was a virgin, and that the conception of the Redeemer would not be the result of any human relationship. Behind this fact is the reality that God, as Creator and the provider of order to the universe, can do anything. He is almighty. The Redeemer will be the Son of God. He will be David’s successor.

The Redeemer’s coming will fulfill God’s promises, spoken by the prophets all through the ages, to bring life and salvation to the people. The birth of this Redeemer will be the ultimate satisfaction of the ancient Covenant.

Vital to the message of the story is Mary’s response: “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38).


The Church makes a vital point in each of these scriptural readings. God reaches out to us. And this outreach is not vague, pointed to a few or impossible to see. It came in the people with whom we can relate: David, Paul and Jesus.

This outreach has critical implications for us in our own inadequacy and limitations. God is almighty, but his supreme power over all creation is not the most consoling point here. Rather, the most reassuring factor is that God loves us.

He continually dispatched messengers such as David, Paul and Jesus, to rescue us from ourselves and to guide to peace in our hearts and life in eternity. He saves us.

The Church approaches Christmas strongly convinced of this fact of God’s love. God’s love indeed saves us. He does not leave us helpless and doomed. He reaches to us to draw us to the divine presence itself.

Now, each of us must respond. Do we accept God? Do we love God? Or do we reject God? It is that simple. †

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