Homily for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year C 2018
There is something about expecting a date. We can’t just wait to see him or her. We get excited when the time is drawing near. We peep through the window to see if we can catch sight of him or her. We dress up. We ask questions about our looks. When we hear the voice of our date, our heart jumps with joy. Our faces beam with a smile that shows we are truly happy.
This is the kind of sentiment the Fourth Sunday of Advent arouses. The time is drawing near. The True Date, Jesus the Christ is coming. We can hear His voice from a distance as the prophet Micah describes Him in chapter 5 verses 1-4. “He will stand and feed his flock with the power of the Lord, with the majesty of the name of his God… He himself will be peace”.
Micah also describes something very common of God’s behaviour; He chooses the poor and the weak, the forgotten, the least to fulfil His plans. Thus, He chose to come from “Bethlehem Ephrathah, the least of the clans of Judah”. He is not to come from a rich powerful family, but from a poor one just as David at the beginning of the Kingdom. He is the New David, the King.
So, we are awaiting the King who is coming to woo us into a relationship, the New Covenant where He is going to be “God with us”, and we shall be His adopted sons and daughters. It is indeed a date that will change everything. A date that will bring all of us who have been outsiders into the inner circle of God’s covenant. It is a date that ushers in the new era of the Son.
We begin to appreciate the in-breaking of the era of the Son when we read the Gospel Reading taken from Luke 1:39-45 alongside a parallel passage from 2 Samuel 6 (David brings the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem). The Ark of the Covenant is the visible sign of God’s presence. It contained three things: 1. The Bowl of Manna, 2. The Ten Commandments, 3. Aaron’s Staff.
Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant. She carried in her womb, Jesus the Christ, the Anointed One who is The Bread of life – a parallel of what Micah said, “He will feed his flock”, the Word of life and the True High Priest; who gives us access to the Father, reconciles us with the Father and makes us His adopted sons and daughters. This is how He Himself will be peace.
From the passages of Luke and 2 Samuel, there are three parallel statements: First, Mary just like David raced to the hill country of Judea. Second, David danced with joy when he encountered the Ark of the Covenant just as John the Baptist leaped for joy in his mother’s womb. Third, David like Elisabeth was filled with awe that the Ark of the Lord came to him.
Why the racing to the hill? Why the joyful expression of the encounter? Why the awe? Simply because of the contents of the Ark of the Covenant. The Bowl of Manna was the symbol of God’s providence. That He will provide for us and take care of us means there is no need for us to worry, to be anxious, to be afraid. And when these three things are overcome, joy reigns.
This is the whole point of David racing to bring the Ark of the Covenant to his City, Jerusalem and Mary hurrying to visit her cousin Elisabeth. It is also the reason why at Advent, we too must hasten up in procession to the New Hill Country, the Mass where we encounter and receive the Word of life, the Bread of life and we gain access to the Father. This encounter is our date with the Bridegroom – Jesus the Christ. We should greet His coming with joyful hope.
Fr. Francis Afu