The Fourth Sunday of Advent
19 December 2018
A friend of mine shared a picture of the banner for Advent that she made for their parish church in Sydney. The first three are commands to us for this time of the year: “Watch!” “Prepare!” and “Rejoice!” The fourth is our and the world’s response to this great miracle: “Yes!” How do we come to the “yes”? By living out the previous three weeks meditating on the daily Scriptures presented to us and being inspired by the people who feature in the stories before the great event: the prophet Isaiah, Zachariah, Elizabeth, John the Baptist, Joseph and Mary.
In our passage from Micah we read: “And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God….and this shall be peace.” This is the description of the one for whom we are waiting, the one who comes in the name of the Lord, the one who has said his “yes” from all eternity – Jesus, the Messiah.
The response to the chosen psalm for today is: “O God, bring us back; let your face shine on us, and we shall be saved.” We conclude the psalm with: “And we shall never forsake you again; give us life that we may call upon your name.” We can only say the words of the psalm with conviction and love if we have said our “yes” and turned back to face the One who is coming.
The reading from Hebrews tells us twice that when Christ came into the world he said: “Behold, I have come to do your will, O God.” This is Jesus’ “yes” to his Father from all eternity and therefore “we have been sanctified through the offering of the body of Jesus Christ once and for all.”
In the Gospel according to Luke we see Mary visiting Elizabeth, who is pregnant, although already past child-bearing age because as Gabriel told Mary; “For with God nothing will be impossible.” [Lk 1:37]
Mary’s greeting causes the child in Elizabeth’s womb to leap for joy in recognition of his Lord, the One he is to proclaim to the people as the Messiah. So John’s “leap” is his “yes” to his calling as the precursor of Jesus, the Lamb of God.
Elizabeth’s recognition of Mary “as the mother of my Lord” is the continuation of her “yes” to God for her calling in this wondrous story.
Elizabeth praises Mary’s obedient “yes” when she says: “And blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.”
Elizabeth Meluch, ocd, speaks about the characters active in the preparation for the coming of the Messiah: “The people of Advent are ‘us’. The Baptist prods us on to newness and the Zachary in us resists until our Elizabeth insists. Our Joseph lets it happen, and the young Mary in us seizes the gift and runs with it. It must be so if the Christ in us is to be born.”
For Reflection and Discussion: 1. How have I prepared for this wondrous deed of God?
2. What is my “yes” to the coming of the Son of God in flesh to my life in 2018/2019?
Bibliography: Ronzani, mccj (Ed.): The Daily Missal Paulines, Africa (2012) (pp.90-92); The People’s Companion to the Breviary Volume 1, Indianapolis (1997) (p. 259)
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