Renew the Disposition of Your Heart

Fourth Sunday of Advent. Homily by Archbishop I. A. Kaigama at Our Lady Queen of Nigeria Pro-Cathedral, Abuja. on 20th December, 2020

Readings: 2 Samuel 7:1-5, 8-11, 16; Romans 16:25-27; Luke 1:26-38

Today’s last Sunday of Advent invites all of us again to renew the inner disposition of our hearts as we await the annual celebration of Jesus’ coming among us. We read in our first reading how David, having captured Jerusalem and made it the political capital of his kingdom, and upon completing his palace, wanted to build a magnificent Temple to accommodate the Ark of the Covenant which was kept in a tent. Through Prophet Nathan, God said He was interested rather in dwelling in David’s family through a dynasty that He would build for him; one that would last forever (cf. 2 Sam. 7:12-13).

Despite his sins and failures as a king of Israel, David was a king “after God’s own heart” (1 Sam. 13:14), from whose lineage Jesus was born through Mary (cf. Matt. 1:16). St. Luke highlights in today’s Gospel the fulfilment of the Davidic dynasty with the coming of Jesus by making reference to “Joseph, a descendant of David” (cf. Lk. 1:27).

God wants to dwell in the temples of our hearts, our families and places of work rather than in elaborate physical buildings (cf. 1 Cor. 3:16). The emphasis at Christmas is that rather than allow Jesus to remain in a manger at Bethlehem, Jesus the Word made flesh, should dwell within us and work through us in the present challenging times to bring the urgently needed healing to our wounded world.

The Gospel reading explains the human origins of Jesus descending from David, by a special intervention of the Holy Spirit. Mary, invited by God to become the mother of Jesus was deeply disturbed, afraid and baffled, but in total submission to God declared, “I am the handmaid of the Lord. May it be done to me according to your word” (Lk. 1:38). Our readiness to cooperate with God’s plan for us is very important in opening the doors of joy and fulfillment in our lives.

After the Angel saluted Mary as highly favoured, and passed on the message from God to her, the Angel counselled Mary: “Do not be afraid, Mary”, even when she had reasons to fear because everybody knew the shame and punishment of having a child out of wedlock in ancient Israel. The Lord is saying to us like Mary that our security is in the hands of God who continues to assure us, “Do not fear, I am always with you.”

The reply of Mary to the Angel was unconditional and wholehearted, “I am the Lord’s servant. Let it be done to me as you say” (Lk 1:38). This “yes” of Mary opened the doors of her heart and womb for God’s will to be done in her life.

We are called to say, “yes” to God even in difficult times and submit to God’s will. It is only when we do the will of God that His kingdom comes in our midst and we can influence our contemporary social, economic and political situations.

Those of you receiving the Sacrament of confirmation today will receive a special grace to make your hearts a home for God. Like Paul, it is an imperative for you to preach the good news; to be carriers and heralds of the good news in a world darkened by sin, indifference and unbelief. Be courageous witnesses and true disciples of Christ and with trusting faith and humility like Mary, say, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord….” (Lk. 1:38).

We are all called to allow God make in us a dwelling place. Like Mary, let us be obedient and say an emphatic “yes” to God and never shy away from our social, pastoral and social responsibilities of contributing to the building of God’s kingdom here on earth.

The situation of escalating insecurity is very perplexing. While we continue believing in our nation and continue our fervent prayers, we task our government to show more closeness to the people and a keen sensitivity to security issues (we are grateful to God that Fr. Matthew Dajo of Abuja Archdiocese kidnapped from his parish home, Fr. Valentine Ezeagu, SMMM, kidnapped on his way to his father’s funeral in Imo State, and the over 300 children of Kankara, Katsina State were released physically unharmed, but certainly psychologically traumatized).

Dear friends, travelling during this holy and festive period should be done with maximum vigilance and great caution. Apart from the bad roads and the actions of reckless drivers, criminals heighten their diabolic activities to make life unbearable for people. Also, remember that COVID-19 is still like the roaring lion roaring, looking for people to devour (cf. 1 Pt 5:8). Let us all take appropriate measures to curb its spread.

We entrust ourselves to the intercession of Mary our Mother and St. Joseph her spouse in order to experience a truly peaceful Christmas, free of sickness, violence and criminal activities, as we welcome Emmanuel, God among us.

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