Come, Lord Jesus, Source of Our Unity

User’s Guide to Dec. 19, the Fourth Sunday of Advent

We celebrate the final Sunday of Advent, preparing our hearts to welcome Jesus.
We celebrate the final Sunday of Advent, preparing our hearts to welcome Jesus. (photo: Shutterstock / Shutterstock)

Sunday, Dec. 19, is the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Mass Readings: Micah 5:1-4a; Psalm 80:2-3, 15-16, 18-19; Hebrews 10:5-10; Luke 1:39-45.

On the Fourth Sunday of Advent we do well to ponder what is taught to us today about the salvation that is to unfold in the first reading, from the prophet Micah. In four short verses we are presented with a kind of summary of our needs and our salvation. Let’s look at all four verses: 

I. Our Humility: The text begins, “And you, Bethlehem-Ephrathah, too small to be among the clans of Judah, from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel.”

Of all the towns and villages in the land of Judah, one of the lowliest was Bethlehem. It was little more than a rundown, frontier village with little to recommend itself. Yet it was here that our Savior chose to be born. See how the Lord esteems humility? God hates pride. He just can’t stand it. Pride is our greatest enemy. That is why the Lord teaches us that humility is one of our greatest gifts.

II. Our Hardship: The text goes on to speak of our condition prior to the coming of Jesus: “Therefore, the Lord will give them up, until the time when she who is to give birth has borne.”

Our condition without Christ was grave. We were given to our own self-destructive tendencies. And we learned of the gravity of our condition, that we cannot save ourselves: Yes, we are wandering, lost and in need of a Savior.

III. Our Head: The text goes on to speak of our Savior and our head: “Whose origin is from of old, from ancient times. He shall stand firm and shepherd his flock by the strength of the Lord, in the majestic name of the Lord, his God.”

Thus the Savior will be both God and man. He is God, for his origin is “from of old, from ancient times.” He also saves us “by the strength of the Lord.” Yet he is also one of us, for the text speaks of him as acting in the “name of the Lord, his God.”

It is said that he will shepherd his flock. It is a trait of sheep to be wayward, to stray. They need the watchful care of a shepherd. Even after saving us from our sins, the Lord must continue to feed us, lead us and protect us. 

IV. Our Healing: The text goes on to say, “and the rest of his kindred shall return to the children of Israel, and they shall remain, for now his greatness shall reach to the ends of the earth; he shall be peace.”

Thus, we see that Jesus’ essential task in healing us is not simply a personal healing for me alone or for you alone. It is also healing that removes the divisions within and among us. Nation is divided against nation; races and ethnic groups are in competition; there is conflict and crushing hatred.

The Lord Jesus established a universal Church, a Catholic Church extending the Gospel to every nation and the dignity of baptism to all. The Lord’s salvation and greatness shall “reach to the ends of the earth.”

The text also says, “He shall be our peace.” 

Note that this is not a “can we all just get along” sort of peace. It means that the Lord Jesus Christ and the truth he proclaims are to be the source of our unity. This, if lived, will put an end to division, bring together the children of God, and show forth God’s greatness, truth and salvation to the ends of the earth.

Savior of the Nations, come!