St. Paul Center for Biblical Theology


Micah 5:1-4
Psalm 80:2-3,15-16,18-19
Hebrews 5:5-10
Luke 1:39-45 (see also “The ‘New Ark’”)

On this last Sunday before Christmas, the Church's Liturgy reveals the true identity of our Redeemer:
He is, as today's First Reading says, the "ruler...whose origin is from...ancient times." He will come from Bethlehem, where David was born of Jesse the Ephrathite and anointed king (see Ruth 4:11-17; 1 Samuel 16:1-13; 17:1; Matthew 2:6).

God promised that an heir of David would reign on his throne forever (see 2 Samuel 7:12-13; Psalm 89; Psalm 132:11-12).

Jesus is that heir, the One the prophets promised would restore the scattered tribes of Israel into a new kingdom (see Isaiah 9:5-6; Ezekiel 34:23-25,30; 37:35). He is "the shepherd of Israel," sung of in today's Psalm. From His throne in heaven, He has "come to save us."

Today's Epistle tells us that He is both the Son of David and the only "begotten" Son of God, come "in the flesh" (see also Psalm 2:7). He is also our "high priest," from the mold of the mysterious Melchisedek, "priest of God Most High," who blessed Abraham at the dawn of salvation history (see Psalm 110:4; Genesis 14:18-20).

All this is recognized by John when he leaps for joy in his mother's womb. Elizabeth, too, is filled with joy and the Holy Spirit. She recognizes that in Mary "the mother of my Lord" has come to her. We hear in her words another echo of the Psalm quoted in today's Epistle (see Psalm 2:7). Elizabeth blesses Mary for her faith that God's Word would be fulfilled in her.

Mary marks the fulfillment not only of the angel's promise to her, but of all God's promises down through history. Mary is the one they await in today's First Reading - "she who is to give birth." She will give birth this week, at Christmas. And the fruit of her womb should bring us joy - she is the mother of our Lord.


The New 'Ark'

The Church in her liturgy and tradition has long praised Mary as "the Ark of the New Covenant." We see biblical roots for this in the readings for the Fourth Sunday in Advent (Cycle C).

Compare Mary's visitation to Elizabeth with the story of David returning the Ark of the Covenant to Jerusalem and you'll hear interesting echoes.

As Mary "set out" for the hill country of Judah, so did David (see Luke 1:19; 2 Samuel 6:2). David, upon seeing the Ark, cries out "How can the Ark of the Lord come to me?" Elizabeth says the same thing about "the mother of my Lord" (see Luke 1:43; 2 Samuel 6:9).

John leaps in Elizabeth's womb, as David danced before the Ark (see Luke 1:41; 2 Samuel 6:16). And as the Ark stayed three months in "the house of Obed-edom," Mary stays three months in "the house of Zechariah" (see Luke 1:40,56; 2 Samuel 6:11).

The Greek word Luke uses to describe Elizabeth's loud cry of joy (anaphoneo) isn't used anywhere else in the New Testament. And it's found in only five places in the Greek Old Testament - every time used to describe "exultation" before the Ark (see 1 Chronicles 15:28; 16:4-5; 2 Chronicles 5:13).

Coincidences? Hardly. The old Ark contained the tablets of the Law, the manna from the desert and the priestly staff of Aaron (see Hebrews 9:4). In Mary, the new Ark, we find the Word of God, the Bread of Life and the High Priest of the new people of God (see also Catechism, no. 2676).



Direct download: C_4_Advent_2015.mp3
Category:Sunday Bible Reflections -- posted at: 12:00pm EST

Miqueas 5, 1-4
Salmo 80, 2-3,15-16,18-19
Hebreos 5, 5-10
Lucas 1, 39-45


En este último domingo antes de Navidad, la liturgia de la Iglesia revela la verdadera identidad de nuestro Redentor: Él es, como dice la primera lectura, el gobernador…cuyos orígenes son antiguos, desde tiempos remotos. Ha de salir de Belén, donde nació David, hijo de Jesé el de Efrata, y fue ungido rey (cfr. Rt 4, 11-17; 1S 16, 1-13; 17.1; Mt 2,6).

Dios prometió que un heredero de David iba a reinar sobre su trono para siempre (cfr. 2S 7, 12-13; Sal 89; Sal 132, 11-12).

Jesús es ese heredero, de quien los profetas prometieron que restauraría a las tribus extraviadas de Israel para constituirlas un nuevo reino (cfr. Is 9,5-6; Ez 34,23-25.30; 37, 35). Él es el “pastor de Israel”, sobre quien canta el salmo de hoy. Su trono está en el cielo y ha venido a salvarnos.

La epístola de este domingo nos dice que Él es, a la vez, Hijo de David y el Hijo único de Dios, que vino “en la carne” (cfr. Sal 2,7). Él es también nuestro “sumo sacerdote”, de la orden del misterioso Melquisedec, “sacerdote de Dios Altísimo”, quien bendijo a Abraham en los albores de la historia de la salvación (cfr. Sal 110, 4; Gn 14, 18-20).

Todo esto es reconocido por Juan cuando salta de gozo en el vientre de su madre. También Isabel, también, se llena de alegría y del Espíritu Santo. Ella reconoce que, en María, la madre del Señor le ha venido a ver. Escuchamos en sus palabras otro eco del salmo citado en la epístola de este domingo (Sal 2,7). Isabel bendice a Maria por haber tenido fe en que la Palabra de Dios se cumpliría en ella.

María representa el cumplimiento, no sólo de la promesa del ángel, sino de todas las promesas de Dios en el transcurso de la historia. Dará a luz esta semana, en la Navidad. Y el fruto de su vientre debe traernos gozo, porque ella es la Madre de Nuestro Señor.

Direct download: C_4_Advent_Spn_2015.mp3
Category:general -- posted at: 12:00pm EST