4th Sunday Of Advent Year C
Theme of the week: Christ, the King foretold from ancient days, made the ultimate sacrifice of himself to bring salvation to the human race. Let us follow his example and make a sin offering of ourselves.
Ephrathah was the name of the clan from which king David came from. It is also another name for the village of Bethlehem. The First Reading foretold that it is from this little village that a new King will be borne to God’s people. Tracing Jesus’ ancestry to David, the passage tells us that the new King’s “origin is from of old, from ancient days” (verse 2). Through his lineage to David, Jesus inherits David’s kingship. However, in contrast to the earthly kings of Michah’s time who were “shepherds who destroy and scatter the sheep” (Jer 23:1); Jesus is the King who “shall stand and feed his flock” (verse 4).
The Second Reading compares the sacrifices made by the Jewish priests with that of Jesus. In the old Jewish ritual of yom kippur, the priest sprinkles blood of animals in the temple. These sacrifices are made year after year; but are incapable of taking away the sins of anyone. By contrast, Christ accepted the will of his father (verse 7) and offered himself as the ultimate sacrifice, atoning for all sins past, present and future. Contrasting burnt offerings of old and the new sin offerings of Christ, the passage explains that God “abolishes the first in order to establish the second” (verse 9). Hence, in Christian worship, the offering of animals as burnt offerings is replaced by Christ’s offering of Himself as atonement for sins. We witness Christ’s sin offering at every Mass, when the priest utters these words in the person of Christ, “Take this, all of you, and eat of it, for this is my Body which will be given up for you. Take this, all of you, and drink from it, for this is the chalice of my Blood …” Such is the reality of the Eucharistic meal – real body and real blood of Christ, given to us to partake.
The Gospel describes the episode of the Visitation, where Mary visited her cousin Elizabeth, the mother of John the Baptist. On hearing the voice of Mary, John leapt in her mother’s womb. Then Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit, said these famous words: “Blessed are you among women, and blessed is the fruit of your womb.” This was the proclamation of the Holy Spirit through the mouth of Elizabeth, with Mary in front of her, carrying within her Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity.
What about us? Has it occurred to you that after we partake in the Eucharistic meal, we too carry within us Christ – body, blood, soul and divinity? Carrying Christ within her, Mary made a great sacrifice of herself, making the uncomfortable journey to visit her pragnant cousin Elizabeth. May has set a great example for us. While making material sacrifice such as goods and money are always commendable, in some ways, these are similar to the sacrifices of the Jewish priests of old, when they sprinkled the blood of animals. As Christians, we are called to take that extra step, to make that personal sacrifice for the sake of others and for the sake of our faith – just as Christ and Mary has shown us.
Christ sacrificed Himself for our sins. As a sincere gesture of our repentance, let us too make our own sin offerings. When sufferings befall upon us, let us accept them willingly. Let us emulate Christ by taking up our crosses and following him (Mt 16:24, Lk 9:23). As we approach the final few days before Christmas, let us reflect on the Christ’s kingship and sacrificial priesthood. Have a blessed Christmas.