An important aspect of the Feast of the Annunciation is the angel Gabriel’s visit to the Virgin Mary, during which he revealed that she would give birth to Jesus Christ through the Holy Spirit.
The Throne of Ancestor David
Luke 1:32 states, “He will be great, and will be called the Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give to him the throne of his ancestor David.”
What’s so special about the throne of Ancestor David?
For those familiar with Israel’s history that begins with Abraham, God was present from the outset. From the moment God called Abraham, He journeyed with him throughout his life, up until the twelve tribes were formed. These tribes became the foundation of Israel as a nation. God protected and delivered figures like Abraham, Isaac, Jacob, and their families. Even when the Israelites were enslaved by the Egyptians and during the Exodus, God intervened and protected them. Scriptures frequently assert God’s role, mentioning, ‘I will fight for you, I will lead you, I will go before you, and clear the path.’
Once they settled in the promised land, the Israelites approached Samuel with a request.
1 Samuel 8:4-5 recounts, “Then all the elders of Israel gathered together and came to Samuel at Ramah. Samuel was a prophet. In those times, with God as their King, prophets conveyed God’s messages. The people approached Samuel, saying, “You are old and your sons do not follow in your ways; appoint for us a king to govern us, like other nations.”
This desire for a human king emerged from their growing concerns about their own well-being. Trusting in God as King means trusting Him with our families. Over-relying on ourselves can lead to challenges. The Israelites seemed to be placing more trust in their own capabilities than in God’s providence.
God’s response to this request, as recorded in 1 Samuel 8:6-7, was profound. He told Samuel, “Listen to the voice of the people in all that they say to you; for they have not rejected you, but they have rejected me from being king over them.’’ This signifies that when we distance ourselves from God’s plans and question spiritual leaders, we are, in essence, distancing ourselves from God.
In moments of stubbornness, when we make decisions contrary to God’s guidance, we must remember that while God respects our free will, the consequences of our choices are ours alone.
Despite God’s myriad acts of protection and sustenance, the Israelites were persistent in their desires, as depicted in 1 Samuel 8:19-20. The elders insisted, “No! We want a king over us, so that we may be like other nations, and that our king may govern us and lead us into battle.”
The root of Israel’s tragedy can be traced back to a fundamental issue: comparison. Israel began to measure itself against other nations, even though its unique identity was meant to set it apart. Similarly, today, we are often tempted to compare ourselves to others and conform to their ways, forgetting our unique calling as children of God. While adapting to diverse cultures and traditions can be a strength, compromising our core beliefs is problematic.
When God announced the birth of John the Baptist, the Jewish tradition didn’t prohibit the consumption of wine. However, God specifically told Zachariah that John should abstain from it. Why? Because John, filled with the Holy Spirit, was meant to be different. Similarly, Christians today are inhabited by the Holy Spirit and should, therefore, cherish their unique identity.
In society, when the norm promotes wrongdoing, why do Christians often hesitate to stand for righteousness? We are called to be distinct, to love even when confronted with hatred, and to forgive even when wronged.
Consider the poignant story of Graham Staines, an Australian missionary in North India. He dedicated his life to the underprivileged, particularly those with leprosy. Tragically, fanatics murdered him and his children. Yet, his wife, Gladys, exemplified Christ’s teachings by forgiving them.
In 1995, Sr. Rani Maria was violently killed. Yet, her parents not only forgave the murderer but embraced him as their own. Such acts showcase the transformative power of Christianity.
Europe’s openness to refugees stands in contrast to many Gulf countries, arguably rooted in its Christian foundation. While modern Europe might not overtly express its Christian identity, its compassionate actions echo Christian teachings. Christian values, like charity, forgiveness, and compassion, have been a beacon of hope for humanity.
When the Israelites chose to distance themselves from God, they were given their first King: Saul. Unfortunately, by his life’s end, he had strayed significantly. David succeeded him and, during his reign, Israel prospered. Yet even David, despite his initial righteousness, succumbed to grave sins. However, he managed to reclaim his kingship after facing numerous challenges. Following David were Solomon, the division of Israel into two kingdoms, and a series of subsequent invasions.
God had promised David that his kingdom would endure. But history showed the dissolution of both the kingdoms of Israel and Judah. This left a puzzling question: How could David’s throne have disappeared if it was meant to last forever?
After being without a king for nearly 500 years, the Israelites’ hope for a Messiah intensified during the Roman rule. Numerous false Messiahs emerged, misleading many. Yet, amidst this backdrop, God’s promise from the Book of Daniel remained:
“And in the days of those kings the God of heaven will set up a kingdom that shall never be destroyed… It shall stand forever.” (Daniel 2:44)
This prophecy kindled hope. As Romans ruled, many awaited the promised kingdom. It’s a reminder that God’s plans unfold in His time, not ours.
Israel’s dilemma stems from the pitfall of comparison. Despite its distinct identity, it started to gauge its worth against other nations. Today, the allure of comparing ourselves to others persists, making us forget our divine uniqueness. While embracing diverse traditions is valuable, we mustn’t let go of our foundational beliefs.
When the birth of John the Baptist was foretold, the Jewish custom didn’t forbid wine. Yet, God instructed Zachariah that John should refrain. The reason? John, imbued with the Holy Spirit, was destined for a unique path. Modern Christians, similarly graced by the Holy Spirit, should honor their special identity.
In a world that sometimes celebrates wrongdoing, it’s puzzling why Christians might shy away from standing for what’s right. We’re summoned to stand out, to offer love in the face of hostility, and to grant forgiveness when wronged.
Reflect on the story of Graham Staines, an Australian missionary in North India. He aided the needy, focusing on leprosy sufferers. In a heartbreaking turn, extremists took his life and those of his children. In a profound act of grace, his widow, Gladys, forgave the perpetrators.
Similarly, in 1995, Sr. Rani Maria met a violent end. Her family’s response was profound—they forgave and even embraced her killer. These stories epitomize the transformative essence of Christianity.
Europe’s welcoming stance towards refugees, contrasting with several Gulf nations, likely has its roots in its Christian ethos. Even if contemporary Europe doesn’t always highlight its Christian foundations, its acts of kindness resonate with Christian values. These values, encompassing charity, mercy, and altruism, continue to inspire.
When the Israelites distanced themselves from God, Saul became their first king. But by the end of his reign, his deviations were evident. His successor, David, brought prosperity, but even he faltered morally. Despite his transgressions, David regained his throne, paving the way for Solomon and later divisions and invasions of Israel.
Although God assured David of his kingdom’s eternity, history tells of the fall of the Israelite kingdoms. This poses a question: How could David’s reign vanish despite divine assurance?
After centuries without a monarch, the Israelites’ yearning for a Messiah surged during the Roman occupation. Many imposters rose, misleading the hopeful. However, God’s prophecy in Daniel shone as a beacon:
“In those times, the God of heaven will establish an everlasting kingdom… It will stand eternally.” (Daniel 2:44)
As Rome dominated, the anticipation for God’s kingdom grew, underscoring the idea that divine timelines supersede human expectations.