4th Sunday of Advent (C) 2018

Today’s first reading is an oracle. That is a prophesy given by some prophet or person with special powers, usually given in ambiguous language.
Bethlehem was the home town of David who was king of Israel about 1,000 b.c. He was the most celebrated ruler of Israel and the long awaited Messiah was to be born of his lineage. So in today’s first reading the prophet Micah is speaking an oracle foretelling the coming of this Redeemer; this descendent of king David who will lead Israel to victory and glory.
In today’s second reading from Hebrews the author is telling us that the multiplicity of sacrifices of the Old Testament are now replaced by the one sacrifice of Jesus of Nazareth on the cross.
Today’s Gospel reading describes Mary’s hurried journey to Elizabeth her relative. When the Angel Gabriel asked Mary if she agreed to be the mother of the Redeemer he/she also mentioned that her kinswoman Elizabeth was also pregnant in her old age. Now, Mary was in a quandary. She was pregnant and as yet unmarried, who would believe her story about the visit of the Angel Gabriel? Certainly not her parents or her boyfriend Joseph.
She knew Elizabeth was kind and understanding and would believe her story after what has happened to her in her old age. So now, having a good excuse to visit Elizabeth she set out hotfoot to see her. I believe that it was Elizabeth and her influential husband Zaharia the priest, who ironed things out with Mary’s parents and Joseph and arranged for a somewhat hurried wedding.
We have Elizabeth congratulating, blessing, Mary for believing and trusting the word of God brought to her by the Angel Gabriel. This in contrast to her husband Zaharia’s reaction of doubt when he was told by an angel that he would have a son in his old age.
The Message today is in the words of Elizabeth to Mary – ‘Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.’
This message brought to Mary by the Angel brought joy but also worry, embarrassment, problems and anxiety. She had to use her knowledge, ingenuity and common sense to solve these problems. She did not regret her decision or rail against the unfairness of her situation. She trusted in her God and got on with what had to be done.