Sunday of the Fourth Week of Advent

Intention: We pray for a faith-filled and transforming Christmastime for our world, one that we fill with peace, justice, and good will toward all.

Today’s Gospel | 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 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 Short 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 is a familiar story to Christians, one that holds special significance because it so powerfully introduces the nativity narratives and their message of redemptive faith.  However, what is equally significant about this narrative is that it sets the context for much of what would be at the heart of people’s lack of faith in Jesus.  Throughout his life, there would be many who would attack Jesus as a fraud precisely because of how and where and to whom he was born.  Self-serving assertions about the ways of God would take the place of selfless openness to his presence and his will.  Today, many of us continue to make this same mistake.  When Jesus comes to us in unexpected forms and from unexpected directions, we either ignore or refuse to accept him, waiting instead for whatever better fits our script for salvation.  Author Craig Keener writes, “If we must ‘feel’ God’s presence before we believe he is with us, we again reduce God to our ability to grasp him, making him an idol instead of acknowledging him as God.”  The time of Advent is a time to reflect on the sincerity of our trust in God, and especially on our willingness to give ourselves fully to his ways.

A Short Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent


Eternal Father, as the days draw closer to the one when we remember the birth of your Son, help us to open our ears and hearts to the sound of his approach.  Teach us to prepare a place in our lives in which we can greet him and embrace his presence.  May we be filled with gratitude that your promise has been kept and that we have been shown our salvation and that of our world.  We ask this of you who lives and reigns with your Son and the Holy Spirit, one God forever and ever.  Amen.

Saint John Baptist de La Salle, pray for us.
Live Jesus in our hearts forever.