Sunday, December 23, 2012

Scripture Readings: The Fourth Sunday of Advent

First Reading: Micah 5:1-4

And you Bethlehem Ephrata, are a little one among the thousands of Juda, out of you shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel: and his going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity. Therefore will he give them up even till the time wherein she that travails shall bring forth: and the remnant of his brethren shall be converted to the children of Israel. And he shall stand, and feed in the strength of the Lord, in the height of the name of the Lord, his God: and they shall be converted, for now shall he be magnified even to the ends of the earth. And this man shall be our peace,

Second Reading: Hebrews 10: 5-10

Wherefore, when he comes into the world he says: Sacrifice and oblation you would not: but a body you have fitted to me. Holocausts for sin did not please you. Then said I: Behold I come: in the head of the book it is written of me: that I should do your will, O God. In saying before, Sacrifices, and oblations, and holocausts for sin you would not, neither are they pleasing to you, which are offered according to the law. Then said I: Behold, I come to do your will, O God: He takes away the first, that he may establish that which follows. In the which will, we are sanctified by the oblation of the body of Jesus Christ once.

Gospel: Luke 1: 39-45

And Mary rising up in those days, went into the hill country with haste into a city of Juda. And she entered into the house of Zachary and saluted Elizabeth.
And it came to pass that when Elizabeth heard the salutation of Mary, the infant leaped in her womb. And Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Ghost. And she cried out with a loud voice and said: Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. And whence is this to me that the mother of my Lord should come to me? For behold as soon as the voice of your salutation sounded in my ears, the infant in my womb leaped for joy. And blessed are you that have believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to you by the Lord.


What we have this week is one of those key passages that especially point to the unique roll of Mary in Salvation. Mary, after receiving Gabriel’s message and accepting her role in God’s plan, goes off to stay with Elizabeth, her relative. Remember, she had been told by the angel that Elizabeth too had been miraculously made pregnant in her old age, so presumably they would have a lot to talk about.

Now, as soon as Mary arrives, literally bearing Christ, John the Baptist leaps in Elizabeth’s womb. But note; he leaps at Mary’s voice; Mary’s arrival is the signal that Jesus has arrived. Where Mary is, Jesus must be. So here, John’s first act as the prophet of Christ’s coming is done in response to Mary’s arrival; John first points out Jesus by pointing out Mary.

At which point, Elizabeth is ‘filled with the Holy Spirit’ and begins to prophesy in her own right, declaring Mary to be ‘Blessed among women, and blessed is the fruit of [her] womb’ then identifying her as ‘the Mother of my Lord.’  

Here’s another interesting point: John can’t very well prophesy while he’s in the womb, or at least, he can only prophesy to one person; his mother, who then acts as his spokeswoman. Now, Scripture doesn’t record Jesus doing anything similar within Mary, but it does make an interesting point; the mother is ‘in tune’ with her child. That is, the person that a child has the closest connection to, and the most perfect communication with is his mother, who is the very first person he can communicate with. Hence, Mary can rightly be called the very first Christian; she is the one who first received Christ’s message, even before He left her womb.

Just as John the Baptist first found Jesus through Mary, so it is even to this day; Mary is the first and most immediate means to encounter Jesus.  

Vive Christus Rex!

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