Fourth Sunday of Advent, 19 December 2021 “And thou Bethlehem Ephrata, art a little one among the thousands of Juda: out of thee shall he come forth unto me that is to be the ruler in Israel.” Mic. 5:2
As Christmas approaches, let us contemplate the Blessed Virgin Mary as the Mother of God: “She shine forth on earth, until the day the Lord shall come, a sign of sure hope and comfort to the Pilgrim People of God.” (Vatican II, Lumen Gentium, # 68) Mary is a sure sign of hope until the “day of the Lord” when He shall come to judge the world. Mary was chosen from among all women from all eternity to be the Mother of God: “But when the fullness of time came, God sent His Son born of woman, born under the law that He might redeem those who were under the law, that we might receive adoption of Sons.” Gal. 4:4-5 In the work of redemption, it is always the woman and her Son. To understand the truth of Christmas we need to see the Mother, as our “sure hope and comfort” in these times. She is the exalted Mother of God chosen by the Father from all eternity to be the Mother of His Son
“…out of thee 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.” Mic. 5:2
In today’s First Reading from the prophet Micah (Mic. 5:1-4) we see the great Messianic prophecy of where and how the Messiah is be born.
The Messiah would be born in Bethlehem of Juda as the Magi were told by the Jewish priests when they came to Jerusalem. The Messiah would be God: “His going forth is from the beginning, from the days of eternity.” Mic. 5:3 As God His divine origins are in eternity where He was begotten of the Father In time, He will be will be born naturally as all men of a woman who will be a virgin before, during and after His birth: “out of thee 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…” Mic.5:3 Micah’s prophecy came at a time when the Jews who were exiled in Babylon would be delivered by God as He foretold earlier in the scriptures when Israel will be delivered from exile. While this is a great prophecy of Israel’s deliverance, it needs to be seen in reference to two other Messianic prophecies. .
Two Great Messianic Prophecies
The first gospel message (Protoevangelium) came at the time of the fall of our first parents in the Garden of Eden. God promised a redeemer who would be born of woman: “I will put enmities between thee and the woman, between thy seed and her seed. She shall crush thy head and thou shalt lie in wait for her heel.” Gen. 3:15 The “woman and her seed,” the Messiah, Jesus Christ, would crush the head of Satan. She would be sinless (the Immaculate Conception) as Satan would never have her in control. She would be a virgin as the prophet Isaias foretold, as there is no mention of man as was customary in Jewish writings: “Behold a virgin shall conceive and bear a son and his name shall be called Emmanuel.” Is. 7:14 All the Jews understood Isaiah’s prophecy in relation to Micah’s prophecy of a woman in travail bringing forth a son who would be divine, “Emanuel,” God with us. We cannot deny the woman’s virginity without also denying the Son’s divinity. If God were going to be born, He would be born in miraculous manner which is the “virgin birth.” She would also be filled with more divine grace than all the saint and angels put together. Blessed Pius IX in his bull for the dogma of the Immaculate Conception, “Ineffabilis Deus” in 1854 says, “God so love her with a unique predilection that He filled her with the greatest abundance of his celestial gifts and her participation in the Divine Life exceeds that of all angels and saints together. Her life reflects so great a fullness of innocence and sanctity that a more exalted creature cannot be conceived of except by the creator Himself.”
“Sacrifice and Oblation thou wouldst not.”
“The woman and her seed” is Jesus, the Son of God, who from predestined from all eternity to be the first born of all creatures. Jesus, in obedience to His Father, comes to redeem us: “Sacrifice and oblation, thou wouldst not, but a body thou hast fitted to me: in holocausts and sin-offerings thou hast no pleasure. Then said I, “Behold, I come -- to do thy will, O God.” Heb. 10: 5-7. Human sacrifice, “holocausts and sin offerings,” cannot make up for the infinite offence of Adam’s sin against God. St. Anselm teaches us that sin is such an infinite offence against God that only God can satisfy for it. But God cannot suffer; therefore, God would have to become a man to make reparation for sin. Only a God-Man, Jesus Christ, the child of Mary could save us. Jesus was “born of woman” in order to be man like every other man. He chose to be born in poverty and isolation in Bethlehem.
“Blessed is the fruit of thy womb.”
Today’s Gospel from St. Luke (1:39-45) continues the rising action of this Christmas story with the Visitation of Our Lady to her cousin St. Elizabeth who is pregnant with St. John the Baptist in her womb. St. Elizabeth praises Mary as blessed when she greets her with Jesus in her womb: “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 art thou among women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb. And whence is this to me, that the mother of my Lord should come to me?” Lk. 1:42-44 Elizabeth, filled with Holy Ghost, recalls how Mary is the woman who will give birth to the Lord, the Messiah of the prophecies of Genesis 3:15, Isaiah 7: 14 and Micah 5:2 Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, praises the motherhood of Mary: “Blessed are thou among women and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.” Lk. 1:42 Of all women, Mary is blessed as she is the Mother of the Redeemer, “the fruit of her womb.” The climax of her narrative is the birth of Jesus on Christmas day with the joy of the heavenly choir of angels and the adoration of the shepherds and magi.
“Leapt for Joy” with Mary’s Coming with Jesus
When Mary brings Jesus to us. We too should leap for joy as St. John the Baptised did in Elizabeth’s womb when he was sanctified by the coming of Jesus within the womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary. We need to contemplate the face of Jesus with Mary as she gazes on her new-born Son as Pope St. John Paul II tells us Apostolic Letter, Rosarium Virginis Mariae #10: “Thereafter Mary’s gaze, ever-filled with adoration and wonder would never leave Him.” Let us too prepare for Christmas by saying the Holy Rosary, and then we too will be blessed for our faith as Elizabeth says of Mary who had faith in what the Angel Gabriel had prophesy to her: “And blessed art thou that hast believed, because those things shall be accomplished that were spoken to thee by the Lord.” Lk. 1:45