“Where does God dwell?” is a question on the minds of many as we continue to adjust to the pandemic. David wanted to build an ornate dwelling for the Ark of the Covenant, but God said, “No, that’s not what I had in mind!” The reading from Romans teaches us that God is present in the Word, and in Luke’s Gospel passage today, Jesus is residing in the womb of Mary. We know that Jesus is present in the assembly gathered, the Koinonia, as well as within the Eucharistic species. But no matter how one experiences the presence of Jesus, these days are challenging. In many places, only limited numbers continue to be allowed in church, while others are only able to worship via live stream. None of the pat answers to where God dwells really fit. We need to try and answer this with new eyes and ears and heart.
The readings this week bear a certain similarity to those of last week—we hear a prophecy from Isaiah that is reiterated by John the Baptist in Mark’s Gospel—but today the focus is different. Last week John told us to repent. Today he is the light leading us to God.
Today is also known as "Gaudete (Rejoice) Sunday," as the reading from First Thessalonians commands us to "Rejoice in the Lord always." We are to rejoice. Right now. Combined with last Sunday, this seems like a mixed message. "Which is it? Repenting or Rejoicing?" But John is telling us that one leads to the other. As we prepare for the coming of our Savior we must first repent and then rejoice.