Proper/Lessons for December 20, 2015, the fourth Sunday of Advent

Micah 5: 2-5a

The prophet Micah announces a new Davidic king will arise from the same origins that produced Israel’s mighty king David. For it was in the little town of Bethlehem David was anointed and from where he united the Northern and Southern tribes and established the city of Jerusalem as capital of a new nation. This new king of David’s line will secure for his people, peace in the land and protection from the forces that war against his nation.

Hebrews 10: 5-10

The author of the book of Hebrews continuously compares the regemin of the old covenant God gave Israel to the new faith offered by God’s Son, the Christ. He maintains that the burnt offerings made year by year have not accomplished their intended purpose of removing sin from the Jews, even from those who faithfully follow the law of sacrifice. Jesus, the Hebrew author responds, desires not the sacrifices of animals or birds in the Jerusalem temple, but asks for belief in him; he is the true sacrifice; he is the will of God; he has come to this world to replace the law with the one sign of belief that is so clearly seen in the sacrifice Jesus made at Calvary.

Luke 1: 39-55

In this last Sunday before the Incarnation, the day when the liturgy remembers the birth of Jesus as Lord, the gospel reading tells the story of two women: the older woman, suddenly pregnant, with a boy who, in his maturity, we call John the Baptist and the other woman, a young girl, also pregnant, who is to be the mother of Jesus. Elizabeth and Mary sense the wonder of God in transforming their lowly status. And from this wonder comes the Magnificat, the beautiful song and commitment of “my soul magnifies the Lord and my spirit rejoices in God my savior.” It is then that both women feel in their bodies the gift of salvation, the coming of the Lord.