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Dec 19th, 2021 Bulletin & News

By December 13, 2021No Comments
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The Anticipation of Christ’s Birth

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent, the anticipation is building for the fast approaching celebration of Christmas. Today’s readings indicate that anticipation. This reading from the Prophet Micah speaks of the coming of the Messiah. Written centuries before the birth of Christ, it tells us that the Messiah would come from Bethlehem. The Messiah shall be the “ruler in Israel,” who “shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the LORD.” The Messiah would fulfill the kingdom of David and reign as king forever. He would not only be the “ruler in Israel,” as David was, but would rule the entire world, as is indicated when this passage says “his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth.” And his kingship shall bring peace. All these descriptors fit Jesus perfectly. He was born in Bethlehem (in fact, there is even a reference to Mary when the passage says, “she who is to give birth”). Jesus is in the line of David and fulfills the Davidic kingdom by being an everlasting king. Jesus is the king of the world and the entire universe, since He is God. And Jesus is the Prince of Peace. Thus, with the birth of Jesus, this prophecy from Micah came to its fulfillment.

In today’s Gospel we hear the account of the Visitation of Mary to her relative, Elizabeth. This event anticipates the birth of Jesus. Mary’s journey to Elizabeth immediately followed the Annunciation of the Angel Gabriel to Mary, when she learned that she would give birth to the Messiah. Scripture tells us that she went “in haste” to see Elizabeth, who was in her sixth month of pregnancy with John the Baptist. It is incredible to think of what this encounter must have been like. Here are two women who have been called by God to bring forth children into the world who would transform history. John would lead the way for the Messiah, Jesus, who would save us from our sins.

Upon Mary’s arrival, John the Baptist leaped in Elizabeth’s womb as an expression of acknowledgement of the presence of the Lord, Jesus, in Mary’s womb. Elizabeth articulates this with the familiar words we say in the “Hail, Mary”: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” She also referred to Mary as “the mother of my Lord.” Thus, Elizabeth expressed faith that Jesus was the Messiah. And she honored Mary for her role in bringing the Messiah into this world. This leads us to an important reflection on Mary’s role in God’s bringing of salvation to the world. God chose to become man in order to save us from our sins.

But He did not force Himself into humanity. He did not disrespect our human freedom in order to do so. Rather, He invited Mary to be the mother of the Messiah. And because she said ‘yes,’ God became incarnate. Therefore, we can echo the words of Elizabeth in saying, “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.” Mary trusted God, even though what she was entrusted with was beyond comprehension. Because of her great faith in welcoming Jesus into this world, we proclaim with Elizabeth that Mary is “blessed among women,” and most of all, give thanks for the amazing gift of our Lord, Jesus, coming into this world.

In celebrating Christmas, strive to focus your attention on Jesus, rather than the consumerism and commercialism of this time of year. Take time in prayer to give thanks for the blessings you have been given, especially the gift of salvation.