By Sr. Jamie Phelps

2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8b-12, 14a, 16 | Luke 1:67-79

On this eve of Christmas, the seventh chapter of Second Samuel and the first chapter of Luke remind us of God’s gratuitous love. During the whole history of Israel, God’s love was so unlimited that no matter how many times the Israelites broke their covenant with God, God continued to rescue them from their own self-destruction and the threat of their enemies. In Second Samuel, King David has ascended the throne and is enjoying a time of peace. Grateful to God, he proposes building a temple to honor God. Once again God’s altruism is revealed: God instead will continue to protect and “will establish a house” for David (2 Samuel 7:11). This house will be a long line of leaders of the house of David, ending finally with the birth of Jesus, the King of Kings whose reign will never end.

In Luke, Zechariah’s canticle celebrates the long history of God’s fidelity to God’s covenant with Israel and the promise to liberate the Israelites from their enemies and “all who hate” them (Luke 1:71). God’s promised liberation frees people to “worship without fear, and live holy and righteous lives all the days of [their] lives” (Luke 1:74-75). Love motivates God to send John the Baptist as a prophet who “will go before to prepare the Savior’s way, to give God’s people knowledge of salvation” (Luke 1:17). Love motivates God to “forgive their sins.” Love and compassion motivate God to send Jesus to guide the Israelites and us away from a culture of death and to embrace a culture of life.

Prayer: O Radiant Dawn, splendor of eternal light and justice, come and shine on those who dwell in the ignorance of sin and the shadows of death. Come, Jesus, come, and teach us your way of gratuitous love and forgiveness. Come, Jesus, come, that we might live in the fullness of life.

This reflection is from Be Watchful and Alert – Seek God’s Spirit in Our World: Reflections for Advent 2008. Jamie T. Phelps, OP, Ph.D is a theologian, author and Director of the Institute for Black Catholic Studies of Xavier University of Louisiana.

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