Go and tell my servant David…“Are you the one to build me a house to live in?”… I took you from the pasture,…I have been with you wherever you went, and have cut off all your enemies from before you; and I will make for you a great name,… I will appoint a place for my people Israel,… the Lord declares to you that the Lord will make you a house…. Your house and your kingdom shall be made sure for ever before me; your throne shall be established for ever.
—2 Samuel 7:5, 8, 9, 10, 11, 16
Probably not many people read meditations on Christmas Eve morning, so I congratulate you for taking time to do so when I know there must be so many exciting and anticipatory things to do today. All is in readiness. There is probably no day of the year which has so much expectation as December 24. It is really more Christmas than Christmas Day itself because it holds the full energy of Advent. Time has come to its fullness (Luke 2:6). Hardly anybody comes to church this morning. It is all about tonight for some wonderful reason.
This is unfortunate, however, because the first reading of today’s morning Mass is especially poignant, and actually one of my favorites, but hardly anyone hears it today. The reading is a wonderful dialogue between the prophet Nathan and King David, part of which we read above. This changing of sides is the great turnaround, which henceforth becomes the central biblical theme of grace, election and Divine initiative. We set out, like David, thinking we have to do something to prove ourselves to God, “build God a house” is the metaphor. And as always, God turns it around and says, “No, David, let me build you a house!” (If you wish, read all of 2 Samuel 7, as it is quite lovely.)
It is time to let that story soak into our unconscious. It will prepare us fully for the day ahead, much more than anything I could say.
Are you still trying to build God a house, or can you first let God build one for you?