In our proximate or imminent preparation to enter into the mystery of the incarnation, we turn to the Prophet Micah. He was a contemporary of other prophets, Hosea and Amos who prophesied in the Northern kingdom of Israel, and Isaiah who prophesied in Jerusalem. Like them, Micah attacked the high rate of corruption that threatened to destroy the Israelite society, the greed of the wealthy and the powerful, the willingness of the priests and the prophets to sell their services for selfish ends; the dishonesty of the merchants, as well as the worship of pagan gods that had replaced or adulterated the true worship of Israel’s God. For these, Micah, like his contemporary prophets, denounces all involved. He prophesizes that God’s judgement will befall Samaria and Jerusalem. After that, there will be restoration, which will usher in, a glorious future for the people of Israel. While Jerusalem, once more, becomes the religious capital of the world, there will be, in Bethlehem, the birth of one, who is greater than David, who will bring about God’s rule over the whole world.
Here, the prophet comes out so clearly by saying that, from Bethlehem-Ephrathah, the birthplace of king David, too small to rank among the clans of Judah, will provide for the Lord, one who will rule Israel whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. The prophet says that the Lord will give them up, until the time when the mother of the promised messiah is borne. This is a great prophecy that, the rest of his brethren, shall return to the children of Israel. In firmness, he will shepherd his flock, by the strength of the Lord. His flock will remain in the majestic name of the Lord, his God. He shall be peace that makes his flock to remain strong and great, reaching to the ends of the earth (Micah 5:1-4).
This messianic prophecy of Micah is in line with what St. Paul tells us that when the fullness of time had come, God sent his Son, born of a woman, to ransom those under the law, so that we might receive adoption (Galatians 4:4-5). As we have seen, Micah’s prophecy is ultimately fulfilled in the birth of Our Lord Jesus Christ. In our gospel reading today, after the annunciation, in which angel Gabriel obtained Mary’s consent, to be the mother of Jesus, who will be great and will be called Son of the Most High, whose kingdom will have no end, she makes her visitation in haste, to Elizabeth and entered the house of Zechariah. At Mary’s greeting, the infant in the womb of Elizabeth leaped for joy, and Elizabeth was filled with the Holy Spirit. Filled with the Holy Spirit, Elizabeth proclaimed her blessedness among all women, the blessedness of the fruit of her womb (Luke 1:39-45). At this, Mary proclaimed the praises of God in the Magnificat.
In preparation to receive Jesus with joy, we have to do so in the Spirit of Mary. She will teach us as a mother teaches her children to imitate her holiness, simplicity, believing in the words of prophecy, openness to accepting God’s will in every circumstance. Mary continues to make perpetual visitation, sharing her love and joy, helping us in all our life situations, as she did when she visited Elizabeth. We too are called to learn from Mary, who is the first among all her son’s disciples. We have to learn from her how to be true disciples of her incarnate son, the son of God, Jesus Christ.
The Blessed Virgin Mary has already lived out the gospel of her son, Jesus Christ, who on coming into the world, declares to the Father, who desires no sacrifice and offering, who prepared a body for him, to do his will, through which we have been sanctified, through the offering of his body once for all (Hebrews 10:5-10). Through Mary’s ‘yes’ to the message of the angel Gabriel, she teaches us to say ‘yes’ to the will of God, like her Son. Through her visitation to Elizabeth, she teaches us how to share with others our love, faith and joy. May we become true disciples of Jesus in the Spirit of Mary, now and forever. Amen
Rev. Fr. Michael Onyekwere, SDV, PhD