Gospel Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Advent
Malvern Minute

 

FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

DECEMBER 18, 2016

Alleluia, alleluia.

The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, 

and they shall name him Emmanuel.

Alleluia, alleluia.

 

A Reading from the holy Gospel according to Saint Matthew 1: 18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.  When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.

Joseph, her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.  For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in herShe will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.

All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.

When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

The Gospel of the Lord.

 

REFLECTION:

There are only two Gospels which give us a narrative of the birth of Jesus.  Saint Matthew’s Gospel is one of them.  It is Matthew’s Gospel that tells us about the Magi from the East who visited the Christ Child and paid Him homage.  The Magi event is Matthew’s way of teaching us that each of us must be seekers of God like the Wise Men.  This image of ourselves as seeker, persistent searchers for God corresponds to what Jesus means when He instructs us: Ask and it will be given to you; seek and you will find; knock and the door will be opened to you (Matthew 7:7).

So, in our effort to seek Emmanuel, God with us, we knock on the door of this Sunday’s Gospel, and we ask Saint Matthew: how (did) the birth of Jesus Christ came about?  The Gospel tells us that the Son of God was born from a woman, Mary who was betrothed to Joseph.  However, the conception of Jesus did not come about by natural means but by the supernatural intervention through the Holy Spirit.

This decision of God to emphatically, through the Incarnation enter into our human family as one like us in all things but sin, was a radical and explosive act of God’s unconditional love.  Who would of thought that the All Holy would be comfortable with sinful humankind, that he would live, walk and eat with us?  Yet, that is what God does!

Into the simple and common lives of Mary and Joseph, God intervened.  While Joseph was a decedent of King David, Joseph, son of David, the couple was not royalty in appearance or life style.  Mary and Joseph were of humble stock, poor peasants of Israel.  They were betrothed to each other, and properly so, they were referred to as husband and wife, but they were not living together or having marital relations.  The intimacy of marital relations was reserved to after their official engagement ended and their marriage vows were exchanged.  Therefore, living apart, Mary was found to be pregnant.  This shameful fact haunted the Holy Family, and as the Gospels indicate, this fact was often used in an attempt to discredit Jesus and His ministry!  Even Joseph, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.

Too often in our lives, because something seems impossible, we abandon the dream or the desire.  This happens too frequently in spiritual life.  Because of our lack of faith and confidence in God, we fail to believe that the impossible is possible.  While Mary did not understand how this Incarnation of God would take place within her, she surrendered to God’s desire.  And so, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.

On his part, Joseph was hesitant to the point that he considered divorcing Mary, but not humiliate her.  Joseph indeed was a righteous man rooted in God and living in right relationship with his neighbors.  But, fear held Joseph captive, and made him incapable of making that leap of faith like Mary did.  However, remaining open to God, God assured Joseph through night time inspirational prayer that he should: not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home …For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.

What has this Advent Gospel taught us?  God is ever vigilant and actively seeks ways to intervene into our lives – Incarnate Himself into our lives!  God wants to demonstrate His unconditional love to us daily.  Even if we think things impossible, nothing is impossible for God.  God wants to be with us; God wants to be Emmanuel for us.  When we surrender ourselves like Mary and Joseph into the hands of God, He impregnates us with His goodness.  The Eternal Father has gifted us at Christmas, and now everyday He offers us the gift of His Son, Jesus who will save his people from their sins.  PRAISE GOD!

WE BELIEVE, AND THEREFORE SPEAK (2 Corinthians 4:13)

Consider joining the Men and Women of Malvern by deepening your personal relationship with Jesus and your commitment as a disciple through a weekend retreat.  See our Web Site for details: MalvernRetreat.com

 

 

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