Daily Reflection
December 24th, 2006

Larry Gillick, S.J.

Deglman Center for Ignatian Spirituality
Click here for a photo of and information on this writer.

Fourth Sunday of Advent
Micah 5:1-4a
Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19
Hebrew 10:5-10
Luke 1:39-45


A one-day week for this Fourth Sunday of Advent, doesn’t seem quite right. It is very difficult to prepare for a Sunday mass when that Sunday is also the eve of Christmas.

Advent Hint: We could ponder from whom would we love to have a visit by phone, email, Christmas card, or actually right at the door of our home? For whom do we wait? We might ponder also whom we might think would love hearing from, or having a visit from, ourselves. The personal gift of you might just be the best gift somebody would receive.


The prophet Micah has been encouraging the people of Israel about their future. The temple will be raised high on a mountain and all nations will see Her as a holy nation. What we hear in our First Reading answers part of the question concerning how this is all going to take place.

Israel is a small area and other clans and nations are stronger. Micah announces that from the little town of Bethlehem, the place of David, the great king of Israel, will come a special person to be the awaited-for great leader. This person will be of the line of David and as with David, this “one” will bring back all of Israel into the kingdom of Israel.

From the smallest shall come forth the revelation of God’s greatness. This “one” shall bring unity of the flock and peace within and among all nations.

The Gospel is an intimate encounter between two women of faith. Both have trusted in the secrecy of pregnancy. They both are moved to share their secrets.

Mary has been greeted by an angel and trusts what she hears in her soul. Elizabeth hears Mary’s greeting and trusts what she hears and feels within her body. Elizabeth greets Mary with a tender benediction: “Blessed are you who believed that what was spoken to you by the Lord would be fulfilled.”

Mary is pictured as having received well a tremendous gift and promise. The first thing she is moved to do is to check it out with her cousin whom she has heard is pregnant too. Reception implies grateful distribution. So much preparation for the great Gift of God’s impregnating the womb of this world. All is set now, only the waiting and watching and wanting.

Little children wonder at the process of birth. My very own nephew and wife had a baby this very morning and their three-year-old daughter has been told as much as she can hold, all about it. It is just too much of a kind of miracle for her and I am sure for her parents as well. Christmas is like that. It is too much for us to handle and take in and be tumbled over by.

Christmas is for children then? Santas are so great, and elves, and reindeers, and Nutcrackers. All are so important for trying to take it all in. It can be too impregnating, too intimate.

Bethlehem, Israel, Mary, stable, manger, shepherds, you, me, us; all too small and yet all hold and behold the secret’s now being announced.

God has come to us according to what makes sense to our minds. Through our senses God has come to visit and stay. It does remain more than we can handle and yet God continues to give the Gift into our little hands, our little stables, our little mangers to hold and begin distributing. He came that we might have life and be freed to give it, and Him away in the life-long, life-giving visits we make in the lives of others. Christmas is for children, yes, but for those of us who seek intimacy in life, Christmas grows us up.

“The Virgin is with child and shall bear a son, and she will call him Emmanuel.” Is. 7, 14

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