Advent Psalm Reflection: Psalm 89—Love and Faithfulness Forever (Part 4 of 4)

Advent Psalm reading for December 21, 22, 23, & 24: Psalm 89.

A Canticle of Praise

Today, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent, we light the candle for Love. The gospel reading that goes alongside Psalm 89 is from Luke 1, the Magnificat, Mary’s song of praise. Mary’s song recalls themes from Exodus 15, the song taken up and sung by Mary’s Hebrew ancestress and namesake, the Prophet Miriam. It is a song about the greatness of God, about God’s majesty, about God’s compassionate justice that lifts up the lowly and tears down the proud.

And Mary said,
“My soul magnifies the Lord,
and my spirit rejoices in God my Savior,

for he has looked with favor on the lowliness of his servant.
Surely, from now on all generations will call me blessed;

for the Mighty One has done great things for me,
and holy is his name.

His mercy is for those who fear him
from generation to generation.

He has shown strength with his arm;
he has scattered the proud in the thoughts of their hearts.

He has brought down the powerful from their thrones,
and lifted up the lowly;

he has filled the hungry with good things,
and sent the rich away empty.

He has helped his servant Israel,
in remembrance of his mercy,

according to the promise he made to our ancestors,
to Abraham and to his descendants forever.”

Mary’s song is remembered as a prophetic canticle that tells of the divine strength and compassion of God who has throughout history and since the beginning of creation watched over the weak and taken care of the humble. Mary, whose life could not be more humbled as it is at this time, when she is pregnant before her wedding, recognizes God’s strength and compassion. We see again what divine compassionate justice looks like. As in so many of the psalms we’ve already reflected upon this Advent season, God’s compassionate justice calls for humility and honor.

A Final Advent Reflection

Tonight is the final night of Advent when our waiting is over. In the morning, the little baby Jesus will appear in the Nativity Creche, adored by statuettes of shepherds, animals, angels, Joseph, and the Mother Mary. It has been a long time tradition in our home to set out the pieces of the Nativity little by little each Sunday of Advent, and then the baby arrives Christmas morning. I am reminded that our lives are meant to be centered around the grace and love of God whose justice is led by compassion.

As we light the candle for Love on this Fourth Sunday of Advent, the Magnificat, Mary’s profound song of praise, resonates deeply with the essence of this season. It’s not just a song about the fulfillment of ancient promises; it’s a testament to the ongoing work of God in the world, a work characterized by turning societal norms upside down – elevating the humble and feeding the hungry, while the powerful and self-satisfied are sent away.

This Advent, as we meditate on Mary’s words, we are invited to reflect on our own lives. How do we embody the love and justice spoken of in the Magnificat? How do we participate in God’s ongoing work of lifting the lowly and filling the hungry with good things? In a world that often values power and wealth, the Advent message challenges us to a different kind of living – one that mirrors the compassion, humility, and love of God.

As we prepare to welcome Christ into our hearts and homes, let us also open our lives to the transformative power of God’s love. May this final night of Advent be a time of contemplation and anticipation, as we await the birth of the Christ, the embodiment of God’s love and justice. And in the spirit of the season, may we commit to living out these values, being bearers of hope, love, and light in our world.

May the joy and peace of Christmas fill your hearts as we celebrate the birth of the Christ, and may the spirit of Advent guide us in the year ahead. Merry Christmas to all, and may we continue to find inspiration in the humble yet powerful message of the Nativity.

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