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Whose house are you building?

Monday, March 19, 2007
Solemnity of St Joseph

Readings: 2 Samuel 7:4-5, 12-14, 16; Psalm 88; Romans 4:13, 16-18, 22; Matthew 1:6, 18-21, 24

'...the word of the Lord came to Nathan, "Go and tell my servant David, Thus says the Lord...I will raise up your offspring after you...I will establish his kingdom. He shall build a house for my name..." ' ( 2 Samuel 7:4, 12-13. RSV.)

The first reading today is taken from 2 Samuel chapter 7. One of the central subject matter is the building of a house. In verse 2 we observe King David expressing his desire to the prophet Nathan to do something majestic for God. He, David, says, 'See now, I dwell in a house of cedar, but the ark of God dwells in a tent'. Initially, the prophet tells David to go ahead with his heart's desire. The prophet even adds: 'for the Lord is with you'; seeming to say, since you are the Lord's anointed, and this anointing has brought success in all your undertakings, then this too must be a proper and fitting idea. However, that very night the Lord spoke to Nathan and told him to tell David not to go ahead with his plan. 'Thus says the Lord: You shall not build me a house to dwell in' (1 Chronicles 17:4. RSV).

There are several lessons to be learnt here. It is not the case that because someone is anointed, as all Christians are, that every idea they come up with is necessarily in accord with the will of God. Quite frankly, anointed people can get it all wrong, as was the case not only with David, but also with Nathan. What is more, even anointed poeple need other anointed people in some instances to know the exact mind of God on a particular issue. This should be a serious lesson for us. David had a special relationship with God. His heart was after the heart of God itself, and for this reason, he became the most renowned king of all Israel.

So, if a man like David could get it wrong, it is possible that others can do so too. Nevetheless, this is no excuse for being ignorant of the fact that, no matter how nice our ideas may seem, God has his own ideas. He has his own plans. No matter how holy we might be, and indeed we might truly be holy, if we do not find out what the mind of God is on a particular matter, all that we might do based on our own ideas might just be in vain.

We cannot anticipate the ways in which God will fulfill his promises. On this feast of Saint Joseph we celebrate the fact that God's promise to David many centuries before - that it was he, the Lord, who would build a house for David and not vice versa - this promise is fulfilled in the birth of Jesus, the Son of David, the Son of God, entrusted to the care of Joseph the carpenter. He, Jesus, is the man who finally builds a fitting house for God, that temple which is his body, the Church.


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