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Conceive and Consume: Reflection on the 4th Sunday of Advent

Mary and Elizabeth. Gibraltar Catholic Youth. Seeking the Word.

The lights are on, the trees are up, the children are singing, and snowballs are flying (in some places!) This Sunday is the last Sunday of preparation before we rejoice over the coming of the Lord on Christmas Day. Finally, beginning this Sunday, the readings in the Liturgy of the Word, begin to speak about what we know Christmas to be about: The birth of our Saviour, coming forth from the Immaculate womb of the Blessed Virgin Mary.

In the First Reading, the Lord speaks to Ahaz, the king of Judah, through the prophet Isaiah and tells Ahaz to ask Him for a sign. But Ahaz refuses to put the Lord to the test. Then Isaiah prophesies that the Lord will still give Ahaz and the House of David a sign: “The maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’” Keep in mind that this happened around 720 B.C. The word used in our Lectionary’s translation, “maiden,” is accurate. It means, “unmarried girl,” i.e. virgin. This helps us to see that the prophecy speaks directly to what will happen in two Sundays time: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel,” as it says in Sunday’s Gospel Acclamation, and God will truly be with us in the person of Jesus Christ.

“Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory,” we will hail on Sunday in the Responsorial Psalm. The first stanza of that Psalm shows us how big God is: “The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness, / the world and all its peoples. / It is he who set it on the seas; / on the water he made it firm.” But the Church presents us with this Psalm precisely to show us just how humble and big He actually is when the same God becomes a little embryo in the womb of our Mother that grows to become a small baby in Bethlehem. It’s a scandal, really! What a God we have.

And this is the Gospel of God that St Paul proclaims at the beginning of his Letter to the Romans in Sunday’s Second Reading. This baby is what the prophets foretold: That God would one day walk among us, “according to the human nature he took.”

Finally, St Matthew begins to narrate the story for us. Mary has conceived in her womb what is Holy: “and you must name him Jesus.” Mary is the New Ark of the Covenant: She contains inside herself He Who is the New Law, He Who is the eternal high priest, and He Who is the real bread from heaven. This is the same bread from heaven whom we too will conceive and consume in our bodies at Holy Mass.

In our Eucharist, this Sunday, God will truly be with us in Christ Jesus; He Who is Emmanuel, God with us. In the Eucharist, the covenants that have been broken so many times throughout the Old Testament are about to be eternally renewed in Christ. This Sunday in our Eucharist, once again, the Family is coming back together. Let us embrace one another under the same Father and push-on in our preparation to receive our Saviour, Christ Jesus.

See you next week on Seeking the Word!

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