By Bishop Robert Barron
The prophet Micah says that Bethlehem-Ephratha is “too small to be among the clans of Judah” but “from you shall come forth for me one who is to be ruler in Israel” (Micah 5:2). Micah is himself one of the minor prophets and so it is only appropriate that he speaks of a small city, little Bethlehem, from which the great Messiah would come.
How common this is in the Bible: the reversal of expectations, the little giving rise to the great, wonderful things coming where you least expect them. The stuttering Moses speaks up to mighty Pharaoh, the slaves face down the Egyptian army, tiny David kills the giant Goliath.
And this last connection is the important one here. Bethlehem is the city of David, the city of the shepherd King. When Samuel came to that town to find the new king, he went through all of Jesse’s splendid sons and then was told there was one more, little David out in the fields. And it was this overlooked one whom God anointed.
This just seems to be God’s way, and that’s why the Messiah would be born in that tiny town, in an out of the way cave under the earth, because there was no room for him in the inn. Yet, through God’s amazing grace, great things can happen, including the birth of the Messiah.
Looking at the small, insignificant town of Bethlehem teaches us three great messages: greatness comes from smallness, never give up hope, and trust always. With those three convictions in our hearts, we’re ready for Christmas.