Catholic Calendar
and Daily Meditations

Sunday, December 18, 2016

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word

Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-24

A reflection on today's Sacred Scriptures:

Today's readings on this Fourth (and last) Sunday of Advent describe how God very dramatically and lovingly intervenes in human history when "there is no way out."

In the first reading, God directly invites King Ahaz to ask for a sign that God would protect the southern kingdom of Judah from enemies that threaten to destroy it.

Now, a wise leader would eagerly grasp at the opportunity. Not Ahaz, who in his pride had already decided on his own political solution! Isaiah decides to give him God's sign anyway, saying "the virgin shall conceive a child and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel." Ahaz was not interested in God's help. He foolishly trusted his own wisdom. As a result, the whole nation was defeated and sent into exile in Babylon.

The Gospel tells us of another man faced with a grave dilemma who did listen to God. Joseph, already bound by a solemn betrothal ceremony to take Mary as his wife, discovers to his dismay that she is with child. He can only suppose that she has been unfaithful to him, and is now subject to very severe laws that could result in her death if he exposes her. He takes the compassionate way out. He will divorce her quietly, exposing himself, not her, to shame.

God intervenes through a dream in which an angel tells him the whole story. The angel tells Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, for her child has God Himself as the Father! With incredible trust and humility, Joseph obediently agrees to the plan. What a contrast between this just man and crafty Ahaz.

Advent has been all about getting our hearts ready to be a closer part of the drama. Jesus' name is "Emmanuel" which means "God is with us!" Are we ready to become actors in the drama, rather than just observers?

At Christmas, God is asking of us what He asked of Mary and Joseph, complete trust in His plans. If we keep on listening to the Christ Child, He will teach us our lines, and shower us with the grace to proclaim them with conviction!

Msgr. Paul Whitmore
email: pwhitmore29 ( )


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