December 22, 2013: 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. (Matthew 1:18-24)
Joseph and Mary were devoted to God.
They were open to the Holy Spirit and listened to God’s counsel (through the angel).
In Jesus’ time, if an unmarried woman was found to be with child, the woman could be stoned to death. Joseph had faith to do what was asked of him. Mary trusted in God that Joseph would do the right thing, although it probably seemed unimaginable at the time.
During this Advent season, let’s have faith that God, as Jesus, “became one of us” (as the Hebrew “Emmanuel” implies). Let’s allow Jesus residence in our hearts today, so that we can be Christ-like to those in need.
Invite a lonely neighbor to Christmas dinner, forgive someone who you have argued with or buy a stranger’s dinner, the next time you are at a restaurant. What a wonderful, unexpected Christmas gift!