December 19. 4th Sunday of Advent C. Isaiah, Hosea, Micah, and the prophets. After the judges during the time of the kings the Lord raised up prophets as counsellors to the kings and to read the signs of the time. In his prophecy Hosea uses the example of his own marriage and his unfaithful wife to explain God’s undying love. He could not bring himself to give up his wife even when she continued in her unfaithfulness. This illustrates how the people turned away from God to worship idols, i.e false gods and money. God punished them but continued to love them. This story also gives a unique insight into marriage and reconciliation. Where love remains, reconciliation is possible; the way of mercy and tenderness.

Micah is best known for the famous passage, “Act justly, love tenderly and walk humbly with your God.” In today’s readings Micah prophesies that the Messiah will come from Bethlehem, a small, insignificant town and Elizabeth welcomes Mary, a simple young woman, “The child leaped in her womb and Elizabeth filled with the Spirit exclaimed with a loud cry.” Blessed are you among women and blessed is the fruit of your womb. Blessed is she who believed that there would be a fulfillment of what was spoken to her from the Lord.” Luke 1.

The book of ISAIAH contains some of the most powerful family imager and the first messianic announcement. “A virgin will conceive and bear a son and shall call his name Immanuel, meaning God with us.” Also in Isaiah is the passage, “I will never forget you my people. Can a mother forget the baby at her breast and have no compassion on the child she has borne? Though she may forget, I will not forget you! See upon the palms of my hands I have written your name. Is 49: 15

Pope Francis: Christ proposed as the distinctive sign of his disciples the law of love and the gift of self for others, as a principle that fathers and mothers embody in their own lives. Another virtue stands out, one often overlooked in our world of frenetic and superficial relationships. It is tenderness. AL27-28. For reflection and discussion. The tenderness, which Pope Francis often speaks of and Hosea and Isaiah write of, is a model for an ideal family life. Can we give one another this gift for Christmas? Despite division and conflicts where love remains reconciliation and peace are possible.