Tuesday of the Fourth Week in Advent
(II Samuel &:1-5.8b-12.14a.16; Luke 1:67-79)
Once on the day after Christmas two American missionaries traveled to a remote Honduran village. When they attended a meeting of the youth group in church, one of the missionaries asked the adolescents about their Christmas gifts. To the person everyone responded by saying that he or she would say special prayers to Jesus and behave more obediently at home. The answers confused the missionary who expected to hear of home-crafted gifts, but the families were evidently too poor to provide even that. Of course, the actual Christmas gifts were much more valuable than anything that could be bought or made because they represented the response the Savior elicits from us.
The first reading today tells of another unexpected gift. David wants to provide a place for the Ark of the Covenant as his bequest to God. As worthy as the idea is, God is the one who will gift David and all humanity. He will give the king an heir to bring peace to the people in a reign that will never end. Christians hear this promise as a prophecy of Jesus Christ in whose kingdom they have thrived.
It is often hard to avoid Christmas merchandizing. We want to express our gratitude to others and they to us with something tangible. Of course, this is not necessarily the trivialization of Christ’s birth, but we can improve upon the custom. We can take real care in what we give – something personally edifying, for example. We also can pray for every person who does something for us and include with each gift a prayer for the receiver.