Christmas is a time for bringing back memories. Maybe that’s why companies that digitize old family movies are so busy toward the end of the year. Home movies give families moments of holiday respite from the worries of the previous 11 months, letting members relive the happiest times of their history together. Watching these highlights can be bittersweet, though, because close relatives also know about the behind-the-scenes battles many of the people in our family movies fought with enemies such as hatred and vices both physical and emotional.
In the first reading for this fourth and final Sunday in Advent (2 SM 7:1-5, 8B-12, 14A, 16), King David is having his own Legacybox moment. David is described as settled in his palace, because “the LORD had given him rest from his enemies on every side.” His rest comes with a care-free God-given walk down memory lane—including a reminder of the source of his security.
“‘It was I who took you from the pasture and from the care of the flock to be commander of my people Israel. I have been with you wherever you went, and I have destroyed all your enemies before you. And I will make you famous like the great ones of the earth.”
David’s enemies are mentioned three times in this excerpt, so it’s clear they were as much a part of his legacy as his greatness. Indeed, Sunday’s readings remind us that Jesus is of David’s bloodline, and David is told that years after he’s dead and gone, an heir will establish an eternal kingdom. But as with all kingdoms, enemies will try conquering it.
Our second reading from Paul’s letter to the Romans (ROM 16:25-27) serves the same purpose as David’s divine nostalgic moment, reminding its audience both of the comforting legacy of Christ’s teachings and of their promise of eternal glory. But earlier in that letter we are also reminded of the enemies from which we get precious few moments of respite—those enemies who Paul says “create dissensions and obstacles, in opposition to the teaching that you learned.” Those enemies who serve “their own appetites, and by fair and flattering speech, deceive the hearts of the innocent.” Once we get wise to those enemies, we are promised that God will “quickly crush Satan under your feet.” That means OUR feet—and THAT means we are God’s instruments for answering the prayer in which Jesus taught us to seek deliverance from evil.
Our readings conclude with our Church’s greatest Legacybox moment, replayed every time we seek respite in the joyful mysteries of the rosary (LK 1:26-38). In those mysteries we remember when Jesus’ mother Mary is given a preview of her legacy and its role in giving humanity hope while fighting a constant battle with evil forces:
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son, and you shall name him Jesus. He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father, and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever, and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
Our legacy must be to turn Mary’s vision of that future into a happy new beginning for our human family.