Biblical Words 
, ancient prophecies and songs of victory are given to those Bethlehem
who wait for God’s deliverance.
a. Micah 5:2-5
The prophet Micah was a country cousin of Isaiah of Jerusalem. Isaiah was the city spokesman, close to the
royal family, prominent in a time when the
Micah was from the small town of
Both Micah and Isaiah lived through times of
impending doom from invading Assyrian armies, with the resulting subjection of
Our passage anticipates such a new age. Out of the little town of
Later generations would have heard additional prophecies in the passage.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
A long period during which God has “given up” the people to subjection and scattering is foreseen. In the times of Herod, Pilate, or Nero, this long period can be seen as coming to an end; a new ruler will reunite the faithful of God, however dispersed they may be, and become for them a prince of peace.
. Luke 1:46-55
The psalm reading is the Magnificat in Luke’s Gospel. Like the Micah passage, it looks back on a period of subjection and misery endured by God’s city and people. But that has now ended and the speaker of this victory song exults in the great reversal that the “Mighty One” has brought about.
The song in Mary’s mouth makes her directly parallel to Hannah, the mother of Samuel, in the older scripture. Mary’s song is a modified version of Hannah’s song (I Samuel 2:1-10), with the same emphasis on the mighty being brought low, the rich sent away empty, the lowly lifted up, and the hungry fed.
There is no reference in Mary’s song to the barrenness of one soon to be a mother, but when it says, “he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant,” “servant” is feminine; he has looked upon his “handmaiden.”
The Gospel is saying that Mary’s experience, like
Hannah’s, anticipates the beginning of a new age: in Hannah’s time the rise of King David,
. Hebrews 10:5-10
The Epistle reading looks more toward the meaning than the events of Advent. Its particular emphasis is on the incarnation:
Sacrifices and offerings you have not desired,
This is a quotation from Psalm 40:6, except that the statement about the “body” is different from both the received Hebrew and Septuagint texts.
The Epistle to the Hebrews is focused on the body of Christ as the sacrifice for sin, a sacrifice made once for all on behalf of all who accept Jesus as Lord. This body entered living history and was given up – entirely in accordance with the will of God – and that body now replaces the animal sacrifices of old times.
For those devoted to the old rituals of the
Tabernacle and the
, (46-55). Luke 1:39-45
The Gospel reading is the visit of Mary, who has just heard the announcement from Gabriel,
to her relative
We have just heard the announcement to Mary of the conception; now we hear what it means.
mother of John the Baptist. Elizabeth’s husband Zechariah got lots of stage
play in the first part of the chapter, Mary has a large part in the events
still ahead, but here Elizabeth, inspired by the Holy Spirit, speaks her
piece. (A few early Latin manuscripts
These events are so portentous that the babies in
the wombs are rejoicing by anticipation.
Who is unworthy old me, that the Anointed One visits me? (She is not the last older woman to speak this way in Luke’s Gospel.)
But supremely, the one who has waited for the
fulfillment is Mother Zion, the city of