Readings for the Fourth Sunday in Advent
Micah 5:2-5a; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-56
“Don’t get your hopes up — I’ll believe it when I see it — Don’t count your chickens before they hatch!” Such popular expressions warn us against premature celebration before we’ve seen the final outcome. And yet this is exactly what Mary does. She boldly (some might say, recklessly) declares that God has done great things for her – even before the Christ has been born. Mary hasn’t even gotten to see an ultrasound, hear the baby’s heartbeat, or feel his kick! No, this isn’t recklessness; this is faith. Mary embraces the Word of the Lord as true even without the benefit of supporting evidence. Are you standing today on a promise from God that is yet to be fulfilled? Then count yourself – like Mary – blessed. God never breaks His promise (Lk 1).
Prophets are another group of people whose work required both great boldness and great faith. Centuries before the birth of Christ, Micah declared that a small and easily overlooked village called Bethlehem would give rise to Israel’s greatest king. Like David before him, Jesus was a shepherd. But unlike the warrior David, Jesus would bring peace by the shedding of his own blood (Mi 5).
The epistle reading from Hebrews describes Jesus as Israel’s greatest and final priest. Instead of animal sacrifices, Jesus offered his own body as a payment for our sins (Hb 10).