4th Sunday of Advent
Scripture: St. Luke 1:39-43
Luke’s scriptures tell us God’s prophetic words are often different from we interpret or expect to happen.
For centuries, Israel talked about a Messiah who was to come. And He would rid Israel of all of its enemies, setting up a new Israel. At that time a great war would take place and Israel would win the war.
Isaiah prophesied a great prophet quite different from a warlord would come leading the Israelites to repentance.
He wrote that a virgin would give birth and conceive a Son. He would be called the Son of the Most High God, and He would save His people from their sins.
The people of that day were no different from how we are today. They were all busy doing their thing and could not see the signs of the approach of a Messiah, especially in the manner and fashion that Jesus came.
Isaiah’s Messiah was not a Messiah of war and bloodshed. Rather, He would be a Messiah of love and mercy.
God saw Mary, a teenager, a righteous God-fearing lady, and sent an angel unto her telling her that she would conceive and bear a Son.
Mary’s question then was, “How can this be, for I am a virgin?” The angel told her that it would be by the power of the Most High God that she would conceive and bear a son - God’s Son - and He would redeem Israel and the world.
Mary’s answer was, “May it be done to me, the handmaiden of the Lord.”
When Joseph discovered that Mary was pregnant, his first thought was to set her aside quietly, not causing her disgrace. Joseph also was greeted by an angel, who said, “Be not afraid to take Mary as your wife, for her pregnancy is by the power of the Most High God.”
Mary and Joseph were betrothed at this time. The betrothed period was 12 months. They lived as husband and wife, but there was no sexual activity.
If Mary had been pregnant by human activity, it would have been a disgrace. She could have faced terrible, terrible consequences. Being stoned to death was the most serious. And if not stoned, she would be disgraced the rest of her life.
I don’t think that we realize the consequences for a young woman caught in pregnancy during the betrothed period. And yet, both Mary and Joseph were God-fearing individuals and they believed the angel’s activity in their lives.
The angel told Joseph that Mary would bear a Son and His name would be Jesus, and He would save and redeem His people.
Christmas is the birthday of the Christ Child, Mary’s firstborn, God’s only Son.
As for the gifts we share at Christmastime, giving to one another is because of three wise men who took nearly 2 years to find Jesus and His parents in Nazareth. They bought gifts fit for a king: gold, frankincense, and myrrh.
The gold represented a wealthy person. Jesus was wealthy as the Son of God.
Frankincense and myrrh are elements for preparing a dead body, showing that Jesus would suffer and die for our sins, the sins of the world.
Praise God that He loved His fallen creature and in redeeming Him sacrificed the blood of His precious Son, our Lord and Savior, whose birthday we celebrate yearly as a reminder of how much God loves each and every one of us. Amen!