Advent Devotions

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 19

But you, O Bethlehem of Ephrathah,
who are one of the little clans of Judah,
from you shall come forth for me
one who is to rule in Israel,
whose origin is from of old,
from ancient days.
Therefore he shall give them up until the time
when she who is in labor has brought forth;
then the rest of his kindred shall return
to the people of Israel.
And he shall stand and feed his flock in the strength of the Lord,
in the majesty of the name of the Lord his God.
And they shall live secure, for now he shall be great
to the ends of the earth;
and he shall be the one of peace.

Micah 5:2-5a

I remember hearing a story about Saint Dominic, the founder of the Dominican Order of Preachers who taught and preached along the countryside in the early 1200s and who lived a life of humility and service for others. Legend has it that his only possessions were a staff and a small bundle, which included a copy of the Gospel according to Matthew and some of Paul’s Letters.

One year, he was on a pilgrimage to Rome when the Pope took him on a personal tour of the gilded, opulent papal palace and the brilliantly beautiful basilica. And the story goes that the Pope began to boast. As they went room by room, the Pope explained about the riches of the treasures. 

When they reached the end of the tour, the Pope recounted the story from Acts 3 when Peter and John encounter a man lying outside the temple on their way to pray. Though the man asks for money, Peter responds by saying,“I have no silver or gold, but what I have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth,[a] stand up and walk.”

And with that, the Pope turned to Saint Dominic and proudly declared, “See? No longer need we say ‘Silver and gold have I none.’”

Saint Dominic thought about it for a moment and responded, “Yes, and at the same time the church can no longer say ‘rise up and walk.’”

We’re drawn to power, to status, to riches, to wealth, aren’t we? And in turn, so often, we expect deliverance to come from those places, but the prophet Micah reminds us that hope and deliverance do not come from the capital city of Jerusalem. Hope comes from one of the little clans, from Bethlehem, a town with little to no significance to the greater population.

As we continue to navigate through these last days toward Christmas, may our hearts not be swayed by what the world holds as important, but rather, may our hearts find hope in the small, unlikely places.

Closing Prayer

God, open our eyes to see where you are present. Amen.

Copyright 2021 Abingdon Press • Used by permission.