Tuesday, December 15, 2015

4th Sunday of Advent

This Sunday is the 4th and final Sunday of Advent.  The Nativity is quickly approaching, and like an expectant parent, the reality of what is to come is beginning to set in.  During the Sundays of Advent we’ve been hearing the prophecy of God sending us a Savior, and now with that moment nearly upon us, we see the prophecy in our readings becoming much more specific, giving flesh to what was just an idea, leaving no doubt that this is going to happen, and that we should be prepared…


Micah 5:1-4a
Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Hebrews 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-45

Our first reading comes from the Book of the Prophet Micah.  While Micah is a contemporary of Isaiah, and his prophetic message is similar, Micah is not a native of Jerusalem like Isaiah, so through his voice we see the view of an outsider looking in.  Though we don’t hear from Micah very often in the Liturgy, his prophecy is the one that gives us the birthplace of our Savior… Bethlehem-Ephrathah.  While Bethlehem is only about 5 miles south of Jerusalem, we need to remember that Luke’s Gospel tells us that Joseph and Mary were from Nazareth, about 100 miles north of Bethlehem.  The difficulty of their journey is that much more apparent when you look at the geography.  Micah’s prophecy tells us that this new ruler will have origins of old, but will stand firm and bring the children of Israel back to the Lord.

Our Psalm complements Mica’s message by reminding us that from his thrown the Son of Man will lead is to salvation as we sing “Lord, make us turn to you, let us see your face and we shall be saved.”  It’s also a prayer for the Lord to take care of is vine (Israel) so that it can be made strong.

Our second reading is from the Letter to the Hebrews.  Here we are reminded that the Lord does not want the holocausts and sin offerings of the ancient tradition, but instead wants our hearts.  The death of Jesus marks the final sacrifice.  Now to show our devotion to the Lord we are asked to simply do the Lord’s will, that is, to love him and love one another.  In the spirit of Advent we need to consecrate ourselves to his will.

We conclude our readings with Luke’s “Hail Mary” passage.  The words, coming from Elizabeth, form the basis our most common Catholic prayer as the unborn John the Baptist leaps in her womb at the sight of Mary, pregnant with Jesus.  The prophecy is being fulfilled.  The players are all in places and our stage is now set for the celebration of the joyful celebration of the Nativity.

Final Thoughts:
Preparing for the Nativity is like preparing for the coming of a child.  Just as the typical term of a pregnancy gives new parents time to prepare for the coming of their child, the season of Advent gives us time to prepare for the coming of our Lord.  To be fair… preparing for Christ’s second coming seems to be a very daunting task, something many fear.  The idea of “the coming of the Lord” is almost too much for us to grasp.  But Advent teaches us that we need to approach the Lord’s coming with joy, and to help us understand the full nature of this joy we cloth our celebration in the memory of the Nativity.  For nothing is more real than the birth of a child.  All that prophecy through the ages is now made manifest in a manger.  Something we can touch, something we can hold, something we can cherish.

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