Readings for Advent 4

Luke 1:39-55; Hebrews 10:5-10; Micah 5:2-5a

When misfortune hits us out of the blue, so often our response is to ask, “Why me, Lord?” Somehow it feels unfair that we should have to endure difficulty. As if the world or even God Himself owed us something – which, of course, He does not.

This week’s readings take that familiar human response and turn it on its head. Elizabeth and Mary both wonder why God should be so good to them – of all people – by blessing them as he does. It seems a miracle, not only that they are both pregnant, but that God has chosen them for such an honor (Luke 1). We see this same theme of God’s surprising choices in the Old Testament where the humble village of Bethlehem is declared to be the arrival point for a Mighty Ruler – the Ancient of Days (Micah 5). Finally, the epistle reading reminds us that the Old Testament system of animal sacrifices was only temporary, to prepare us for Jesus’ one-time, all-sufficient offering of himself on Calvary (Heb 10).

In a spirit of gratitude, let’s ponder with Mary and Elizabeth the Christmas question: “Why me, Lord?”