Eucharistic Readings for the 4th Sunday of Advent: Year A:
Isaiah 7:10-16; Psalm 80:1-7, and16-18; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25:
“But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.”” (Matthew 1: 20 – 21)
So God is preparing to walk with people on earth. And God decides to start as all humans start, as a baby. Of all the earth, and specifically, the people of the earth, Joseph and Mary become the new Adam and Eve. This is not about original sin but a new place to begin. This is not even about marriage as the scripture makes clear. This is about the best parents for raising God Incarnate.
Joseph goes to sleep with a heavy decision to make: to keep or not to keep Mary. He decided not to keep her but even that was burdensome. This is why an angel from God came into his life and in a dream none the less. This is not the first time God visited us in this way. In the first beginnings, in Genesis, God visited Jacob as he slept (Genesis 28: 12 – 13).
For me, Joseph is the patron saint of fatherhood. He is a silent listener and obeyer of God. We have no words from Joseph. He is told to take the baby and mother to Egypt, and later to bring them back to Israel. He hears and obeys. He is told that he is not to back away from marriage to Mary because he is not the father of the baby. Joseph is told by the angel of God that this is not about him, it is about saving all humanity from our sins, then and now.
Do you believe God, or the angels of God, really did this? If yes, do you believe God can, and still does, do this? I do. Like Joseph and Jacob, we too get so burdened with fear or conflicts of the norms of our day that we need help in doing what God wants. It is during these times that God acts. God’s dreams enter our troubled and tired minds, something we resist when we are awake.
This is the Holy Spirit of God. This Holy Spirit always acts for the benefit of the human race and this earth, our fragile, island home. The Holy Spirit continues today preserving us in eternal life by saving us from our sins. And, like Joseph, we too are called to silent obedience.
Please keep up your thoughts and prayers and hopes for Ukraine, Iran and China.
As we listen to what the Spirit is saying to us, let us live to love and serve, and to teach others to love and serve, while pondering anew what the Almighty can do. John