December 20: Fourth Sunday of Advent Year C
Readings: Micah 5:1-4; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45
On this final Sunday of Advent, God through the prophet Micah promises a unique Savior, born in David’s town of Bethlehem; a Savior who will stand and feed his flock and establish peace. The prophet speaks of God bestowing on Bethlehem the distinction of being the birthplace of an ideal ruler of Israel. The one who will come from this town will be “the one who is to be ruler in Israel” and “whose origin is from of old; from ancient times.” In other words, this was preordained by God. However, only God knows when this ruler will come. Until such time as the Messiah arrives to deliver Israel from its oppressors, the Jewish people will continue to be subject to other nations. When he does come he will be the true shepherd of Israel and the servant of God. He will guide people by the standards of heaven rather than by the misguided notions of the bad shepherds before him. Very significantly, “he shall be peace” and deliver God’s people. His peace shall bring about total harmony among the nations and the ends of the earth will hear of his wisdom. We therefore anticipate the fulfillment of that prophecy in Christ, who comes among us as it were secretly and unnoticed, in the womb of Mary.
St. Luke's account of Mary's visit to her cousin Elizabeth underlines that mystery of Christ in our midst. In the Gospel passage, Luke very skilfully sets the stage for the coming of the Messiah. The meeting of the two expectant mothers is also the meeting of their sons. John leaps with joy in the womb of Elizabeth, and thus acknowledges the presence of the one prophesied. Before the mystery of Mary's greeting, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit, and praises Mary for her faith and trust in God. Both Mary and Elizabeth already anticipate the joy of God's presence and salvation unfolding before them. This beautiful meeting leads us into the very centre of Advent, namely the prayerful anticipation of the mystery already among us. As we approach Christmas, we are called to imitate Elizabeth who recognized and rejoiced in the humble presence of Christ our Saviour. Like Mary in her obedience of faith, we are called to believe that the promise made to us by the Lord will indeed be fulfilled in the mystery of Christ’s presence in our lives. We are constantly challenged in our faith to take Christ to others as Mary did, so that Christ who is secretly present in us may touch the lives of others. So what message do we take home this Sunday? 1) Like Mary in her obedience of faith, we are challenged to believe that the promise made to us by the Lord will indeed be fulfilled in the mystery of Christ’s presence in our lives. 2) Like Mary, we are called personally and as parish community to go out to share the Good News of salvation with others; 3) As we approach Christmas, we are called to imitate Elizabeth who recognized and rejoiced in the humble presence of Christ our Saviour.
©2009 John S. Mbinda