A reflection for the fourth Sunday of Advent

Rose Hesselbrock reflects on the readings for December 24, 2023.
Catholic Voices

Readings (Year B):

2 Samuel 7:1 – 5, 8b – 12, 14a, 16
Psalms 89:2 – 3, 4 – 5, 27, 29
Romans 16:25 – 27
Luke 1:26 – 38

Reflection: Making a home for God

The holidays are filled with images of home. In Hallmark movies especially, home is a beautiful house in a country village with a wide front porch where rocking chairs and blankets invite close family members to sit outside in the frosty air with a cup of steaming hot chocolate cradled in mittened hands. Neighbors call out cheery greetings, inspiring spontaneous singing of Christmas carols in perfect harmony.

I suppose there are truly places like that, but where I live in Seattle, home can take on a very different image. Only a few miles from my condo there are rows of tents and dilapidated mobile homes and campers where people live with no heat and no running water. They sleep on cold concrete. They live with the uncertainty of where their next meal will come from or if they will be safe during the night.  For those living in tents, the Hallmark image of home might as well be from a different planet. And yet, there are always signs of the tent residents trying to make their tent and their surroundings more home-like for themselves. A blanket, a pet, a flowerpot, maybe even a Christmas tree. 

Today, Mary is invited to make a home for Jesus in a unique and special way. To carry the spark of the light of the world in her womb, a place of warmth and darkness and secrecy and protection. A place where the heartbeat of the savior of the world is in harmony with the heartbeat of the Blessed Mother. 


By her willingness to say yes to the invitation, Mary models the way of making a home for Jesus, and not only Jesus, but all who follow him. Even though she did not know where her “yes” would lead, she trusted the message of the angel and opened her heart to the ark of God—the ark of the covenant, God’s promise to be present to all who believe. Once Mary had said yes, she was also offering a welcome to all those who follow Jesus.

Once we learn how to welcome Jesus, who else do we welcome inside? Do we gaze upon homeless encampments and come to the same realization that King David did? “Here I am living in a house of cedar, while the ark of God dwells in a tent!” Can we imagine those experiencing homelessness as home for the ark of God? Perhaps God would more readily be found there than in Hallmark houses.

The invitation of Mary and the Christ child is to make our home where we are most likely to encounter God. We do not need to be afraid to respond to this invitation. From the Pastoral Letter of the Synod, we find encouragement: “Mary, Mother of the Church, the first on the journey, accompanies our pilgrimage. In joy and in sorrow, she shows us her Son and invites us to trust. And He, Jesus, is our only hope!” Emmanuel: God with us.

About the author

Rose Hesselbrock

Rose Hesselbrock has a master's degree in theology from Seattle University and is the chair of the pastoral council at St. Therese Catholic Church in Seattle, where she also serves as synod coordinator and lay presider. She lives with her husband, Tom, and cat, Prince, in Seattle.

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