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Humble Praise and Joyful Anticipation: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Insight Scoop ^ | December 20, 2009 | Carl Olson

Posted on 12/20/2009 2:36:47 PM PST by NYer

A Scriptural Reflection on the Fourth Sunday of Advent


Mi 5:1-4a
Ps 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Heb 10:5-10
Lk 1:39-45

The readings for this fourth Sunday (and final day) of Advent emphasize the lowly origins of Jesus — both geographical and familial — and the loving sacrificial work that He, as Lord and Savior, would undertake for the sake of Israel and the entire human race.

The ascent from lowliness to greatness via the startling path of sacrifice is hinted at in the reading from the prophet Micah. His message followed a basic pattern similar to that of his contemporary Isaiah: the announcement of judgment due to the rejection of God’s law, the prophecy of a restored Zion, and an exhortation to a spiritual renewal based in trust in God’s mercy.

The Messiah, the future ruler of Israel, will come from the little town of Bethlehem, the city of David; centuries later this prophesy is emphasized in Matthew’s Gospel (Matt 2:5-6). This promise echoes the covenantal vows made to King David, including the eternal establishment of his house, throne, and kingdom (2 Sam 7:11-13, 16). There is also a reference to the mother of this ruler in Israel, an identification fully expressed and realized in the Gospel reading.

“He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock”, states Micah. So, too, the Psalmist depicts the coming Messiah as the “shepherd of Israel” who comes from the throne of God to save His people. Psalm 80 is a song of lament in the wake of a military defeat, possibly involving the capture of the Temple in sixth century B.C. Its author asks God to remember His people — “this vine” — and have mercy on them. He humbly acknowledges that only the Lord, by taking merciful initiative, can save His people by turning His face to them.

The Epistle reading is a reminder that the divine initiative in the work of salvation centers on the Son’s desire to fulfill the will of the Father. “By his loving obedience to the Father,” states the Catechis of the Catholic Church, “‘unto death, even death on a cross’ (Phil 2:8), Jesus fulfils the atoning mission (cf. Is 53:10) of the suffering Servant, who will ‘make many righteous; and he shall bear their iniquities’ (Is 53:11; cf. Rom 5:19)” (CCC 623).

Drawing from Psalm 40, the Son twice declares: “Behold, I come to do your will.” This is the perfect expression of divine love, the same divine love that fills those who have been baptized into the Son because of the sacrificial gift of His body on the cross (cf. Rom 6:3-4). Again, glory does not come through merely external acts or proud aspirations, but from humility before God, obedience to His divine will, and gratitude for the gift of His life.

In the final Gospel reading of Advent, Luke depicts two mothers-to-be praising God for His blessings and marveling at His mysterious ways. The emphasis on obedience and faith that marks today’s readings reaches a climax in the person of the young Jewish virgin. “The Virgin Mary,” the Catechism teaches, “most perfectly embodies the obedience of faith” (CCC 148; cf. CCC 144). It is this faith that is recognized by Mary’s relative, Elizabeth, when the pregnant Mother of God visits her: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Elizabeth’s recognition of her Lord in the womb of Mary is dramatic and, at the same time, almost matter-of-fact in tone. The title “Lord” is usually meant for God (see Luke 1:6, 9, 11, 15), and it is applied to Jesus often throughout Luke’s Gospel and the Acts of the Apostles. Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, knows that Mary’s child is special and that His life will have a significance surpassing that of her son. Earlier, in verse 15, her husband, Zechariah, had been told that John would “be filled with the holy Spirit even from his mother’s womb.” John’s leaping for joy in the womb is evidence of this; the precursor of Jesus announced the presence of the Messiah even before either had been born.

This marks a fitting conclusion to the season of Advent: humble praise and joyful anticipation on the cusp of the Nativity, when the God of Israel joins history and humanity as the Incarnate Son of God.

(Originally published in a slightly different form in the December 24, 2006, edition of Our Sunday Visitor newspaper.)

"Rejoice in the Lord always!": The Third Sunday of Advent

TOPICS: Apologetics; Catholic; History; Worship
KEYWORDS: advent

1 posted on 12/20/2009 2:36:50 PM PST by NYer
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To: netmilsmom; thefrankbaum; markomalley; Tax-chick; GregB; saradippity; Berlin_Freeper; Litany; ...
On this final Sunday of Advent, the Maronite Catholic Church celebrates Genealogy Sunday. This particular Sunday in the Maronite Church reminds us that the Messiah would come from a prophetic and priestly line. The Gospel today traces Jesus’ genealogy from the time of Abraham through captivity to the time of Joseph. All that the prophets pointed to in the Old Testament was fulfilled in Jesus, born to Mary and Joseph, of the House of David.

This lineage, tedious as it is read it out loud for the deacon or priest, is an important reminder of the events of salvation and our own families. Just as the Evangelist notes the lineage of Jesus, we find our own lineage and roots to be of equal importance. We define our lineage as the country and village we were born in, the particular region and the family or tribe from whence we come. If any of our families came over on the Mayflower, we would all know about it several times! We are rightfully proud of who we are and where we came from. This particular Gospel passage helps us to realize that Jesus in the fulfillment of all that has been predicted in the Scriptures. The House of David should shine with pride that the Long Awaited Savior has come from their family line.

Chapter 1
1 2 The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.
Abraham became the father of Isaac, Isaac the father of Jacob, Jacob the father of Judah and his brothers.
Judah became the father of Perez and Zerah, whose mother was Tamar. Perez became the father of Hezron, Hezron the father of Ram,
Ram the father of Amminadab. Amminadab became the father of Nahshon, Nahshon the father of Salmon,
Salmon the father of Boaz, whose mother was Rahab. Boaz became the father of Obed, whose mother was Ruth. Obed became the father of Jesse,
Jesse the father of David the king. David became the father of Solomon, whose mother had been the wife of Uriah.
3 Solomon became the father of Rehoboam, Rehoboam the father of Abijah, Abijah the father of Asaph.
Asaph became the father of Jehoshaphat, Jehoshaphat the father of Joram, Joram the father of Uzziah.
Uzziah became the father of Jotham, Jotham the father of Ahaz, Ahaz the father of Hezekiah.
Hezekiah became the father of Manasseh, Manasseh the father of Amos, 4 Amos the father of Josiah.
Josiah became the father of Jechoniah and his brothers at the time of the Babylonian exile.
After the Babylonian exile, Jechoniah became the father of Shealtiel, Shealtiel the father of Zerubbabel,
Zerubbabel the father of Abiud. Abiud became the father of Eliakim, Eliakim the father of Azor,
Azor the father of Zadok. Zadok became the father of Achim, Achim the father of Eliud,
Eliud the father of Eleazar. Eleazar became the father of Matthan, Matthan the father of Jacob,
Jacob the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah.
Thus the total number of generations from Abraham to David is fourteen generations; from David to the Babylonian exile, fourteen generations; from the Babylonian exile to the Messiah, fourteen generations. 5

2 posted on 12/20/2009 2:40:40 PM PST by NYer ("One Who Prays Is Not Afraid; One Who Prays Is Never Alone" - Benedict XVI)
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