THE IDENTITY OF THAT CHILD

                   SUNDAY REFLECTION

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT YEAR C

Micah 5:1-4 , Hebrews 10:5-10 , Luke 1:39-45

 

In this last Sunday before Christmas, the readings prepare us for the Christmas celebration. Each of the three readings takes up a different aspect of this great mystery to help us in our understanding and in our personal preparation. Throughout Advent, we have heard of God’s promise to send a liberator – a saviour into the world; today, we catch a glimpse of how that is to be accomplished. The readings of today simply revealed the identity of the child to be born among us.

In the First Reading of today from the Book of the Prophet Micah, God through the Prophet Micah promises a unique Savior, born in David’s town of Bethlehem: a Savior, who will stand and feed his flock and establish peace. Here, there is an explicit reference to the forthcoming birth of the Messiah in Bethlehem – the least of the clans of Judah. The prophet speaks of God bestowing on Bethlehem the distinction of being the birthplace of an ideal ruler of Israel. The one who will come from this town will be “the one who is to be ruler in Israel” and “whose origin is from of old, from ancient times.” ‘But you, O Bethlehem Ephratah, who are little to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel, whose origin is from of old, from an­cient days’ (Mic 5:2). The child to be born is a child of promise. The birth of Jesus Christ is the fulfillment of the promises that God would deliver his people from slavery. He will come from the least of the clans, an unexpected place. Sometimes God always comes in ways and circumstances we may not expect. Only He knows the why of every condition. Secondly never underrate anyone, you, may never know what he or she can be in future. Bethlehem is underrated but today became the birthplace of the messiah.

Thirdly, the messiah is our ruler and leader, and the king who will come again to judge the living and the dead. He came for us and our salvation.

The first reading says ‘And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord, in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God. And they shall dwell secure, for now he shall be great to the ends of the earth’ (Mic 5:4) Jesus is the Good Shepherd.
Jesus gathers up all who are scattered and wandering lost on the hillsides.
Jesus rejoices when those who are lost are found: there is more rejoicing in heaven when one sinner repents than over ninety nine others who have no need of repentance.
Jesus is the one who feeds his people: we are gathered at his table to share in his Eucharistic banquet.
Jesus reveals the majesty of the Father to us and he glorifies the Father’s name.
Jesus’ kingdom has no end, and we are charged to bring his gospel to the very ends of the earth.

The second reading expresses that more. It is worthy to note that the letter to the Hebrews is a book that is fundamentally about the Lord Jesus — who he is, what he did and how he did it. Particularly relevant to our passage is the recognition that Hebrews speaks of the Lord Jesus as one who was faithful to God. Hebrews 2:17, “faithful high priest in the service of God”; 3:2, “faithful to the one who appointed him”; 3:6, “Christ, however, was faithful over God’s house as a son.” That this faithfulness to God is at the heart of the life and ministry of the Lord Jesus is seen in the statement in 5:7 that Jesus cried out to “the one who was able to save him from death and he was heard because of his reverent submission.” That is: it was faithful submission in the life of the Lord Jesus to the will and purposes of God that gave him the confidence that God would hear his cry and ultimately raise him from death.

The second reading has Christ speaking with the voice of the Psalmist acknowledging his primary purpose, “I have come to do your will, O God” (Hebrews 10:7). This is then repeated in verse 9, “See, I have come to do your will.” One may ask “So, what is the will of God for me?” Perhaps the most succinct, accurate, and also universally applicable answer that can be given to this perennial question is found in the verses immediately preceding the parable of the Good Samaritan in Luke 10. The one who questions Jesus affirms that the Law clearly teaches that we are to “love the Lord your God with all your heart, and with all your soul, and with all your strength, and with all your mind; and your neighbour as yourself” (Luke 10:27). But then Jesus strikingly responds with, “do this, and you will live” (Luke 10:28). Thus, in one simple statement Jesus reveals his understanding that our key purpose is to love and to love no matter what. This is surely at the heart of our passage: The desire of the Lord Jesus to root his life in love as the key to his life purpose and the answer to what it means to obey God. Jesus lived his entire life as an offering of faithful obedience to God. And this example calls us to offer own lives, in their entirety, in faithful obedience to God.

St. Luke’s account of Mary’s visit to her cousin Elizabeth, underlines the mystery of Christ in our midst. In the Gospel passage, Luke very skillfully sets the stage for the coming of the Messiah. The meeting of the two expectant mothers is also the meeting of their sons. John leaps with joy in the womb of Elizabeth, and thus acknowledges the presence of the one prophesied. As soon as Mary enters into the presence of Elizabeth, Elizabeth is filled with the Holy Spirit and praises Mary for her faith and trust in God: “Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” Elizabeth recognized the presence of God, the Messiah, in Mary, the living Ark of God and burst into praise and said prophetically: “Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord?” Both Mary and Elizabeth already anticipate the joy of God’s presence and salvation unfolding before them. This beautiful meeting leads us into the very center of Advent, namely the prayerful anticipation of the mystery already among us.

The advent of Jesus in your life fills you with the power of the Holy Spirit. It is Jesus who gives you the Holy Spirit, once he is present you in your life, the presence of the Holy Spirit is assured. Secondly, He is a Man of peace and joy and he gives them to whoever meets him personally. There is this inner peace and joy when ever Jesus occupies your heart. Thirdly, how the child in Elizabeth’s womb recognized Jesus is still a mystery. This to show that the child to be born makes every impossible things look simple. Fourthly, Elizabeth affirmed him to be the Lord. “Why should I be honored with a visit from the mother of my Lord?”It is an affirmation that Jesus should take charge of all your affairs both spiritual and temporal.  HE IS THE LORD AND NO OTHER.In this final week of Advent season, the Word of God simply invites us to discover anew the true meaning of Christmas – ‘Emmanuel’ i.e. ‘God is with us.’

Give JESUS a place in your heart, in your life and places of work. Etc.  He should be your all in all. During the American Civil War a lady exclaimed effusively to President Lincoln: “Oh Mr. President, I feel so sure that God is on our side, don’t you?” “Ma’am,” replied the President, “I am more concerned that we should be on God’s side.” Yes, oftentimes we pray to God and ask him to do what we want, rather than we doing what He wants us to do, and surrendering to His will. So, trusting in God’s faithfulness and love, and full of hope let us come to him today with total surrender.