Gospel – Matthew 1:18-24
Fourth Sunday of Advent
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 conceive 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.
Reflection on Sunday Gospel
Let us remember we are in the holy presence of God…
Ah, Joseph, a good man, a family man, his concern about Mary and the child she is carrying weighs heavy upon him. A man who is losing sleep over what decisions should he make regarding his family situation. Clearly, Joseph wants to make a just, loving and caring decision for all involved. What to do? I am sure we can all relate to Joseph. In reading this Gospel passage we can sense the fear and doubt that Joseph experienced. We can relate to this man because of the times that we, too, have experienced our own fear and doubt. Who among us have not worried about family, friends, and related situations? “God, what shall I do?” is a prayer we have all uttered many times in our life.
In the Gospel for the fourth Sunday of Advent the angel reassures Joseph that his decision to take Mary, his wife, into his home was indeed the right decision, and that Joseph should not be afraid or doubt this decision. The phrases “do not be afraid,” “fear not,” or “you have nothing to fear” appear often in Scripture. These reassuring words of the prophets, the angels, or of Jesus are spoken to the downtrodden, the shepherds, the women at the tomb, and yes, the words are spoken to us. These simple yet profound words assure us that God is truly present and actively engaged in our lives. As sons and daughters of God, we, too, are called to “fear not” and to trust in God’s loving and Divine Providence. Out of curiosity, I Googled “How often do the words ‘Be not afraid’ appear in Scripture?” The answer depends upon what translation of the Bible you chose to reference but interestingly, the majority of sources reveal that the phrase(s) appears 365 times. A “do not be afraid” for every day of the year!
At this sacred time of Incarnational remembrance, when the divine breaks into human history to reveal what it truly means to be human, let us reflect upon the prayer of the Founder, Saint John Baptist de La Salle, “Let us remember that we are in the holy presence of God.” We exist in God’s love and protection. We are graced with God’s comfort and tidings of great joy! How will we know of God’s presence? We will know it to be true when like Joseph, we awake, see with the eyes of faith, and act on the revelation that, YES! Emmanuel! God is with us!
Merry Christmas and blessed peace in the New Year!
St. John Baptist de La Salle … Pray for Us!
Live Jesus in our Hearts … Forever!
Ms. Maryann Donohue-Lynch