OFFICE FOR LITURGY

of the Roman Catholic Diocese of Salford

Fourth Sunday of Advent (Year C)

It’s only in this last week before Christmas that we begin to hear about the “Christmas story” itself. For the past weeks we have been preparing ourselves to greet the Lord, when he comes. Now we prepare to remember how he first came, by listening to the prophecies of his coming, and by hearing of the events before his birth. We meet the woman, Mary, who herself had been prepared for the coming of the Messiah. She has received the angel’s greeting, and his strange news, and has accepted her role in God’s plan. Now she hurries to her kinswoman, Elizabeth, who herself bears John the Baptist in her womb. John, just as we heard last week, alerts us to the presence of the Lord, as he leaps for joy in his mother’s womb. His joy is that God has kept his promise, and is with his people.

Notes for Readers

First Reading: Micah 5:1-4
 
This prophecy speaks of Bethlehem, the place where the Messiah was to be born. He was to be the ruler of Israel, and the bringer of peace. This should be read with a certain solemnity: it is a proclamation, much of whose impact comes from our knowledge of “what happened next” - of the fact that this prophecy was fulfilled. Take this slowly, sentence by sentence: the first four lines are clear. Then comes a reference to the “ancient past” - the long line of descent of the Messiah. The next two lines talk of the waiting for the Messiah to come, and then we hear what the Messiah will do: he will reunite the people, he will feed his flock, he will give security. All this should be proclaimed with a powerful confidence. Save something for the last line, however, perhaps even dropping your voice slightly for “he himself will be peace”. This is such a poetic line - so full of truth and the wonder of Christmas. Enjoy it.
 
Second Reading: Hebrews 10:5-10
 
This is not easy. The reading is making a point about the Old Law of Israel (of performing animal sacrifices and oblations) being superseded by the New Law - where the perfect offering is a life of obedience. Jesus Christ, the one who took flesh in the womb of Mary, is perfectly obedient to His Father, and therefore is the perfect sacrifice. His “Here I am”, which He uttered by emptying himself of the glory of godhead to take human flesh in a woman’s womb, is the sacrifice that fulfils all the prophecies and promises of the Old Law (or Old Testament). The first part, quoting “what Christ said” is easy enough - just remember He is talking to His Father. The bit you have to be extra careful with is the second half: “Notice that he says... “. This is meant to be an explanation of the first half: it is all to do with the two sacrifices - that laid down by the Law (Old) and the “Here I am” of Jesus (New). Ask if you’re not sure.

From the Catechism

The Visitation
CCC 148, 495, 717, 2676
 
495 "Called in the Gospels "the mother of Jesus", Mary is acclaimed by Elizabeth, at the prompting of the Spirit and even before the birth of her son, as "the mother of my Lord". In fact, the One whom she conceived as man by the Holy Spirit, who truly became her Son according to the flesh, was none other than the Father's eternal Son, the second person of the Holy Trinity. Hence the Church confesses that Mary is truly "Mother of God" (Theotokos)
 
The Son becomes incarnate to do the Father’s will
CCC 462, 606-607, 2568, 2824

Gospel Wordsearch

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