4th Sunday of Advent Reflection
4th Sun Adv A 18 Dec 2016
We are told how the birth of Jesus happened. Mary was engaged to Joseph. Mary conceives Jesus and Joseph is not the biological father. Gabriel, the angel, tells Mary that she is with child and so she carries alone this news and her child for days, not telling Joseph. She finds the courage to tell him, knowing that he may reject her. This would bring not only disgrace to Mary but also to Joseph and their respective families. Again, the angel of the Lord comes this time to Joseph and in a dream. The angel tells Joseph that he is to marry Mary. The child is going to be a son and he is to call him Jesus and “he will save people from their sins”. Their child was to be the fulfillment of the ancient prophecy for he is “Emmanuel, God with us.”
The dream was so powerful that it moved Joseph to carry out what was asked of him. Mary and Joseph became husband and wife, and Jesus, their son. The willingness and freedom that both Mary and Joseph demonstrated, in order to hear what God wanted them to do and the courage to trust God, was outstanding. Joseph shows incredible generosity to receive Mary and her child within, knowing that he had not fathered this child. How easy it would have been to be angry with Mary, not believe her, accuse her of being unfaithful to him and of having a sexual affair with some other man, and in some way, to discard her to a disgraceful fate. Instead, Joseph’s love for Mary guides his decisions. This is more than mere infatuation. This very love is the same love that God has for Joseph. It is no longer about Joseph and his needs but it is about Mary, the mother, and Jesus, the child.
We see further, through Joseph, what happens when our lives are in line with God’s love. Self-centeredness simply diminishes. With God’s love we enter into the dream of God: where we hear amazing things, see wonderful things, and in the end and outside of the dream world, we do—what appeared at one time to us as the impossible things–the right, the merciful, the just and the loving things.
Let us open ourselves to the true Spirit of Christmas and hear through the Angel or Joseph, or Mary, God speak to us and call us to bring God’s love into the world. Sounds impossible? But we know it was done before and we are simply being called to do it again, in/for this time. Why? So that we have the comfort in knowing, personally and communally, that indeed “God is with us.” God your love prevails. Let us rejoice and sing in this moon of wintertime to God: “Jesus, your King, is born, Jesus is born, in excelsis gloria.” After all, this King is our Saviour.
Written by: Fr. David Shulist, SJ, Director, Jesuit Volunteers Canada