In today’s first reading, the prophet Micah announces God’s great promise … that the small tribe which had settled in the insignificant town of Bethlehem would one day produce the Ruler of Israel. This gave the people hope, and, as a result, their lives were given direction.
At the beginning of Luke’s Gospel we’re introduced to an elderly married couple, who lived in the hope that God would make good His promises – Zechariah and Elizabeth, the parents of John the Baptist, who represent a hope which did not die. Instead they saw it come true in their own son, John, who was to prepare for, and point out, the One from Bethlehem. At the news of Elizabeth’s pregnancy, Mary hurried off to see this sign of a hope fulfilled.
In the meeting of the elderly Elizabeth and the young Mary, the Old Testament meets the New: the ancient promise comes to its fulfilment in the two mothers.
Mary allowed God’s promise to shape her whole life. This promise has a name: Jesus. He will bring to fulfillment all that has gone before, and give new meaning to all that will happen after Him. He stands at the very centre of time – B.C. / A.D. He is the One Who stands at the very centre of our lives too.
We’ve almost reached the end of our time of waiting … waiting for Jesus to be born. When He comes to us, He brings with Him the promise of great love.
As He comes to us, He invites us to make a few promises. And as Advent ends, we thank God for keeping His word to us, and ask Him to help us keep our word to Him … and to each other.
Preceded only in importance by the Paschal Mystery (Easter!), the Church has no more ancient a tradition than the celebration of the Christmas Season: from the time of Jesus’ humble birth in Bethlehem; the announcement of His birth to the shepherds by angels; the revelation to the Magi (Kings) and their subsequent adoration of the Child; His baptism in the River Jordan and the Father’s declaration of Jesus as His “beloved Son” and the beginning of His public ministry.
The other feasts of Christmastide – St. Stephen, St. John the Evangelist, the Solemnity of Mary the Mother of God, all have an intimate connection with the Lord’s manifestation.
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