Intention: We pray for a faith-filled and transforming Christmastime for our world, one that fills it with peace, justice, and good will toward all.
Today’s Gospel | Matthew 1:18-25
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 her. She 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 be with child 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. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
A Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent
In today’s Gospel, we read an account of how it came to be that Jesus was born. It tells of the unexpected and even troubling way in which God chose to become human. In the years to follow, there would be many who would attack Jesus as a fraud precisely because of how and where and to whom he was born. Egocentric conclusions about the nature and will of God took the place of a true openness to his presence and his ways. Today, we continue to make similar mistakes over and over again. Jesus comes to us in many unexpected forms and from many unexpected directions and, because we think we already know him, we do not recognize him and so we do not accept him. Enuma Okoro writes, “Openness to God demands our growing acceptance that we cannot create blueprints for our own lives. Though God’s character is unchanging, the ways of God are unpredictable.” For us, the call to conversion is to turn away from wanting life to fall in step with us, and to find the faith and humility to walk as disciples and as builders not of our own kingdom but God’s. The time of Advent is a time to learn how to trust in divine grace, and especially in the daily surprises and challenges that are God’s holy presence.
Eternal Father, these days are filled with making things ready to celebrate the coming of your Son. In all of our hurry, we might forget to pause long enough to look at one another. Help us to make time to be still and to recognize you in the persons in our lives, especially those who are most in need. May our greeting be one of welcome, our embrace one of fellowship, and our spirit one of giving. We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever. Amen.”