4th Sunday of Advent
The Gospel this weekend is this:
Now 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.
19 Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
20 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 her.
21 She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins."
22 All this took place to fulfil what the Lord had said through the prophet:
23 "Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel," which means "God is with us."
24 When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. 25 He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
The first reading is this:
Again the LORD spoke to Ahaz:
11 Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the nether world, or high as the sky!
12 But Ahaz answered, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!"
13 Then he said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary men, must you also weary my God?
14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall be with child, and bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel.
The second reading is this:
Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an
apostle and set apart for the gospel of God,
2 which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy scriptures,
3 the gospel about his Son, descended from David
according to the flesh,
4 but established as Son of God in power according to the spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
5 Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
6 among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
7 to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus
This is the final Sunday before Christmas.
An Angel of the Lord hasn't appeared to me or to you (I presume!), as happened to Joseph in a dream, but the Word of God has arrived down to us all through many centuries and through many lives that have given us good testimony of the love of God. There is a reality that is deeper than human wisdom, as requested by Isaiah today (Is 7:11), and that moves our hearts if we open to it - and the Love of God gets born in us. Mundane knowledge just can't grasp divine realities (as Isaiah says to Ahaz today) but the faith can, and Joseph received Mary into his house and Christ got born in Bethlehem. It's asking us to open up our lives to the faith and to allow Christ to be born anew in us this Christmas.
The second reading is of St Paul explaining that the realities of Christ simply go beyond our normal understanding, so he's justifying the fact that Joseph of Nazareth hadn't done 'the fathering' of Jesus with Mary.
Perhaps we've learnt quite a lot about our religion and we've been to many masses, but have we really opened our heart and minds to the presence of God? …listening to and reading his interesting Word with an attitude of gratefulness? Have we done so beginning each time with a humble “I need it, Lord”, and from there spending some time meditating his Word and arriving at a humble “Let it be done in me according to your word”? We live in a world that tries to suppress the Gospel (as Paul says to the Romans Rom 1:18) but that doesn't undo the eternal Good News.
Since a mother and father prepare before a birth so that the newborn will have a secure arrival into a clean house, we too should prepare for Christmas by cleaning up our hearts and cleaning up our world of selfish riches, honours and pleasures which impede that things be done 'according to his word'! Let's thank God for giving us the Good News and let's renew our determination to avoid things that sully it. The virgin will give birth. The world couldn't explain that - unless Mary were a mother bee undergoing parthenogenesis! We don't try to explain it. We celebrate it. And God really wants to be 'God with us' (as is meant by the name Immanuel).
I like the example of St Joseph. He decided to obey God's will, even though he had to face up to challenges and problems. He must have been very much in-love with Mary, and she was a perfect follower of Jewish morality, yet she became pregnant and it wasn't done by Joseph! When he woke from his dream, he probably had to struggle with some doubts. When they arrived inBethlehem, there was no room available at the inn. The obstetric hospital that the Trinity were presenting for the most important birth in human history, was a stable for sheep and cows! Yet Joseph kept believing, and things turned out well. It makes me think of this young Irish doctor who left a luxurious style of life in order to become a missionary priest, and ends up in a wheelchair with multiple sclerosis! But I really think that it's just a small upset along the way to our true home. I'm far from St Joseph in sanctity, but I keep honestly believing that God organizes all things well. Thanks be to God the faith in Christ got born in me, and this Christmas I'm celebrating that! But do we offer ourselves to God so that the birth process can continue? We could join in the chain of people who give witness of love.
An 'angel of the Lord' hasn't appeared to us, but the Word of God has arrived down to us all. And it's very Good. Happy Christmas! Good tidings to you and your friends!
4° de Adviento: Is 7:10-14. Rom 1:1-7. Mat 1:18-24
Este domingo es el último antes de Navidad.
Un 'ángel del Señor' no nos ha aparecido ni a ti ni a mí (supongo!), como hizo a José en un sueño, pero la Palabra de Dios ha llegado hasta nosotros a través de muchos siglos y muchas vidas que dan testimonio del amor de Dios. Hay una realidad más profunda que nuestra sabiduría mundana (Is 7:11), y mueve nuestros corazones si nos abrimos a ella - y el Amor de Dios nacerá en nosotros. El conocimiento mundano no puede abarcar las realidades divinas (como Isaías dice a Ajaz hoy) pero la fe puede, y José recibió a María en casa y Cristo nació en Belén. Nos llama a abrir nuestras vidas a la fe y permitir que Cristo nazca nuevamente en nosotros esta Navidad. La secunda lectura es de San Pablo explicando que las realidades de Cristo simplemente sobrepasan nuestro entendimiento normal, entonces está justificando el hecho de que José de Nazarea no había hecho ‘el acto sexual’ con María.
Quizás hemos aprendido bastante sobre nuestra religión y hemos ido a muchas misas, pero ¿realmente hemos abierto nuestros corazones y mentes a la presencia de Dios - escuchando con gratitud a su interesantísima Palabra? ¿Lo hemos hecho empezando con un humilde "lo necesito, Señor", y desde ahí meditando mucho su Palabra, y llegando a un humilde "Hágase en mí según tu palabra"?. Vivimos en un mundo que intenta pervertir el Evangelio (como dice Pablo a los Romanos) pero eso no cambia la Buena Nuevaeterna.
¡Como una madre y un padre preparan para el parto para que el recién nacido tenga una llegada segura en una casa limpia, conviene preparar para Navidad limpiando nuestros corazones y limpiando el mundo de riquezas egoístas, honores y placeres que impiden el hacer ‘según su palabra’! Demos gracias a Dios por darnos esta Buena Nueva y dejemos que renueve nuestra determinación para evitar cosas que lo pervierten (Rom 1:6,7). La virgen está en cinta. El mundo no podría explicarlo - ¡al no ser que María fuera un abeja que pasa por la partenogénesis! No intentamos explicarlo. Lo celebramos. Y Dios realmente quiere estar con nosotros (el significado de Emmanuel).
El ejemplo de San José me gusta. Él decidió obedecer a la voluntad de Dios, sin embargo todavía los desafíos y problemas vinieron. Debe ser que estaba muy enamorado de María, y ella era una seguidora perfecta de la fe judía, sin embargo ella se quedo embarazada ¡y no era por obra de José! ¡Cuando se despertó de su sueño, quizás tuvo que luchar con algunas dudas! Cuando llegaron a Belén, no había ningún cuarto para ellos en la posada. ¡El hospital obstétrico que la Trinidad estaba presentando para el nacimiento más importante de la historia humana, era un establo para ovejas y vacas! Sin embargo, José siguió creyendo, y las cosas resultaron bien. ¡Me hace pensar en este joven médico Irlandés que dejó un estilo de vida lujoso para hacerse un sacerdote misionero, ¡y terminó en una silla de ruedas con la esclerosis múltiple! Pero realmente creo que es simplemente un fastidio pequeño en el camino a nuestro verdadero hogar. Estoy lejos de José en santidad, pero sigo creyendo honestamente que Dios organiza todo bien. ¡Gracias a Dios, la fe en Cristo nació en mí, y esta Navidad estoy celebrando eso! Pero ofrezcámonos a Dios para que el proceso del nacimiento pueda seguir adelante. Podemos continuar la cadena de las personas que dan testimonio de amor.
Un 'ángel del Señor' no se ha aparecido ni a ti ni a mí como a José en un sueño, pero la Palabra de Dios nos ha llegado. Y es muy Buena. ¡Feliz Navidad! ¡Claro sol brilla ya!
Reflections of faith
Read and be inspired by the reflections and experiences of faith, based on the Word of God.