Fourth Sunday of Advent

Readings

Is 7:10-14
Rom 1:1-7
Mt 1:18-24

Reflection

During this final week of Advent as we approach the longest night of the year we are led by Luke and Matthew. Together  these Evangelists weave a wonderful tapestry of light that guides our journey.   Luke chooses  the thread that is Mary to weave with and he coordinates beautifully with the thread that Matthew chooses in Joseph.

It is Matthew who teaches us on this Fourth Sunday of Advent.  “This is how…”  This is how God works and how he unfolds his plan to bring about new life.  By skillfully weaving the Joseph story with Luke’s Mary we are given the Christmas story of how “the birth of Jesus came about”.  And in that tapestry we can recognize age old stories that have been told many times before and that we tell now “because it is the Season.”  But is that is all it is? A lovely, familiar picture--a Christmas card of wonderful things that happened long ago?  Or is it the Icon that it should be that announces to us today that God’s Word comes to us today in a new way--can we with Mary say “be it done to me” and like Joseph take the Word into the home of our lives?

The Christmas tapestry is an intense blending of the light and dark threads of human history, with a genealogy of divergent personalities that would test any attempt to choreograph into any kind of coherent composition.  Luke and Matthew  do this with Mary and Joseph.

Joseph, from the line of David, parallels in his “Annunciation” the faith of Mary, the “lowly handmaid, whose “yes” began the birth process.

“Such was his intention…” articulates perfectly humanity’s great challenge to God’s intention throughout history to lead the human family to  life.  Joseph “was a righteous man” who intended to do God’s will.  It was not sinfulness that Joseph battled it was the fear to go deeper than where his own intentions were able to go.  

Tradition teaches that Joseph was much older than Mary.  Mary was a teen, probably of 15 and Joseph many years her senior.  For Joseph, his annunciation was a call to start all over again.  It was a call to take his intentions that were formed by many years of life and experience and do it all over over and in a very different way--God’s way.

The question for us is whether we are so locked into the way we think and do things that our own plans and intentions make it difficult for God’s word to get a hearing and thus receive the “Yes” that  God hopes from us.

-Fr. Gino Correa, OFM, University Chaplain