4th Sunday of Advent

4th Sunday of Advent Year A

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

It was a few days before Christmas. A woman woke up one morning and told her husband, “I just dreamed that you gave me a pearl necklace for Christmas. What do you think this dream means?” “Oh,” her husband replied, “you’ll know the day after tomorrow.” The next morning, she turned to her husband again and said she had the same dream, and received the same reply.  On the third morning, the woman woke up and smiled at her husband, “I just dreamed again that you gave me a pearl necklace for Christmas. What do you think this dream means?” And he smiled back, “You’ll know tonight.” That evening, the man came home with a small package and presented it to his wife. She was delighted. She opened it gently. And when she did, she found — a book! And the book’s title was The Meaning of Dreams. Today’s gospel tells us how Joseph had a dream and how he reacted to it

Jewish marriage started with an engagement arranged by parents, often between children.  Prior to marriage, couples began a year-long betrothal very much like marriage except for sexual rights.  Betrothal was binding and could be terminated only by death or divorce.  A person whose betrothed had died was considered to be a widow or widower. Joseph found that Mary was pregnant without his knowledge.  Now, the law required that Mary be stoned to death, because she would have been considered an unfaithful wife, and the baby would have been stoned to death with her.  In Deuteronomy 22:23-24, the penalty for adultery was death by stoning at the door of her father’s house as she had disgraced her father.

Since Joseph was a just man of great mercy, he resolved to divorce Mary quietly so that he might not cause her unnecessary pain.  In doing so, he models Christ-like compassion in the face of sin.  He also demonstrates a Godly balance between the Law of Torah and the Law of Love.  And then in a dream he learned that the child had been conceived by the Holy Spirit, and that he was to be the foster-father of the Christ, claiming him by naming him, and then rearing him.  Joseph, through trust and faith in God, accepted his mission as the foster-father of the Son of God..

1) Like Joseph, we need to trust in God, listen to Him and be faithful.  We are here in this church, six days before Christmas, because, like Joseph, we are faithful, and we trust in God, His power and His mercy.  Although we may face financial problems, job insecurity, family problems and health concerns let us try to be trusting and faithful like St. Joseph.   Instead of relying on our own schemes to get us through life, let us trust in God and be strengthened by talking to Him in fervent prayer and by listening to Him speaking through the Bible. Let us remain faithful and prayerful, imitating Joseph and Mary, the humblest of the humble, the kindliest of the kindly, and the greatest-ever believers in God’s goodness and mercy, and welcoming Jesus into our hearts and lives this Christmas. 

We need to experience Emmanuel in our lives and change the world: The good news and the consoling message of Christmas is that the child Jesus still waits today to step into our hearts—your heart and mine—and to change us and the world around us by the beauty of God’s love, kindness, mercy and compassion.  Let us take some time to welcome the Christ Child into our heart and lives this week, so that He may change our world of miseries with the beauty of that love.

Do we have any gift for our Birthday Boy?” Let us check to see if Jesus is on our list this Christmas and if we have a special gift in mind for him. A heart filled with love for God and our fellow-human beings is the birthday gift which Jesus expects from us. Hence let us prepare our heart for Jesus, filling it with love, mercy, compassion and forgiveness, on this Christmas and every day of our lives.

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