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Reflections on the Sunday readings

The promise of peace

Sometimes it may seem that the people living in Biblical times were very different from us. On the other hand, what makes scriptures so valuable is their capacity to shed light on the human dilemma, regardless of the century. Today’s readings begin with Micah, a prophet writing possibly 2500 years ago. Micah told the people that someday a child will be born in Bethlehem, and that he would bring peace. He specifically mentioned that the origins of this child are ancient (Micah 5:2). It is a mysterious comment in what is otherwise a pretty specific and straightforward prophecy.
In my mind, Micah was pointing to the mystery of the incarnation, and, by extension, the way God has chosen to act – to create – through evolution. For the origins of the child Jesus are ancient, going back before the big bang, a part of God always. This Jesus, the word made flesh, came to do God’s will (Hebrews 10:9) in a manner somewhat different from the subservient posture of a lamb being sacrificed, but rather out of a complete agreement with and participation in the will of God. God’s own self was willing to become a part of evolution, including its capricious and dangerous capacity for harm.
Mary’s willingness to carry the baby Jesus in her womb brings us back to the human story. Elizabeth blessed Mary for her belief in the truth of God’s message to her (Luke 1:45). As if wanting to take the spotlight off herself, Mary began singing the praises of the almighty, who will cast down the mighty from their thrones, and lift up the lowly(Luke 1:52). Her trust in God helps one to understand how she was able to say yes to God’s bold question for her life.
Each of us has a choice to participate in God’s work on earth. It takes both trust in God’s ways and working to be a full partner in these ways: striving to be one’s best self at each moment of life. And here, one can begin to find the peace that Micah prophesied so long ago.

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