|Mary visits Elizabeth: photo by Checco|
Time to open up the Advent scriptures for Sunday one more time before we celebrate Christmas! This coming weekend brings us to the Fourth Sunday of Advent. You can find the readings and background material on them here and if you're bringing children to Mass with you, then you'll find hints for helping them prepare to hear the Word here.
The first scripture is from the prophet Micah who makes here his only appearance in the Sunday readings (something that should be corrected in future editions of the lectionary!) Micah addresses insignificant Bethlehem to say that from such a small town shall come forth one whose greatness will reach the ends of the earth. The passage ends with the awesome words: "He shall be peace."
The second lesson, from Hebrews, reminds us three times that Christ came to do God's will. This texts sounds neither "Adventish" nor "Christmassy." Rather, it's a blunt reminder of why the Word became flesh in Christ: to save us from our sins.
As is the case in all three years of the lectionary, Advent's fourth Sunday gives us a gospel with Mary, the mother of Jesus, as a central character. Here, we read the story of the Visitation - the visit Mary made to her kinswoman, Elizabeth, who was pregnant with John, who would become the Baptist, while Mary was carrying Jesus. From this passage in Luke comes a portion of the prayer, Hail Mary.
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