Summary: The prophecy to David foretells the coming of the king whose reign will never end.
December 24, 2014
Eve of the Nativity
Today we begin what I call the “thirteen days of Christmas.” This is the final day of the pre-Christmas novena, nine days in which the Church looks forward to the Christmas solemnity. The Church gets as excited as a five-year old child today. In the Office, here are some of the prayers and antiphons: “Lift up your heads and see; your redemption is now at hand.” “The day has come at last when Mary will bring forth her firstborn Son.” “Tomorrow will be the day of your salvation, the sinfulness of earth will be destroyed.” “Come, Lord Jesus, do not delay; give new courage to your people who trust in your love.”
In our OT reading today, we see a marvelous exchange of promises. King David, sometime before he saw Bathsheba and got into huge sin and trouble, wakes up and realizes that he is dwelling in a fine palace while–as he sees it–the Lord is living in a tent. Now in Torah we see that God not only doesn’t have a problem with his earthly “dwelling” being a tent, he specifically commanded it of Moses. But David doesn’t see it that way. God deserves a palace just as good as or better than his. So he determines to fix that problem, and Nathan thoughtlessly says, "Go, do all that is in your heart; for the LORD is with you."
But God reveals to Nathan that David’s thinking is cockeyed. The gift is not from David to his Lord. The gift is entirely a divine benefit to David and his descendants. God doesn’t need anything from us. He is entirely self-sufficient. Instead, in His divine love, he longs to create and share from His abundance. So, in Nathan’s prophecy, we see God reminding David of all the gifts he has received: He raised him up from the smelly job of tending sheep to the exalted position of king of Israel. He was with David in everything, removing his Philistine enemies and his predecessor, the vile king Saul. He has given his kingdom a special land at peace, and freedom from fear.
And there is more: instead of David building God a house, God will build David a house, a living house of descendants. God even looks beyond Solomon, David’s son and successor, who has not even begun to exist. He looks to a king who will establish the Davidic line forever.
That descendant of David, of course, is Jesus, the God-man who would be born of the virgin, Mary, but who would be the adopted and legal son of David’s descendant, Joseph of Nazareth. Jesus is the horn of salvation of the house of David, who would rescue all who believe in Him from their true enemies–sin and death. Zechariah’s prayer is prophetic not only of his son, John, but of Jesus Himself.
Until the first Christmas day, we all were doomed to sit forever in the shadows, subject to sin and death. After the birth of Jesus, the Messiah, the Son of God and son of David, redemption was realized. Jesus would die and be raised so that we wouldn’t have to undergo eternal death, so that we could live in union with God forever. The Fathers of the Church were right: Christ became human so that humans could become divine. Jesus became son of Mary so that we could be the adopted children of God. As our midmorning prayer today says, “This is the good news the prophets foretold. The Savior will be born of the Virgin Mary.”