On the Gospel of Matthew 1:18-24
Fourth Sunday of Advent
As we prepare for the very special season of Christmas, the Church presents us, on this fourth Sunday of Advent, with the story of the coming of Jesus Christ in the Gospel of St. Matthew. In most accounts of the birth of Christ, the person of Mary is normally central. This passage is quite unique, however, in that it gives an account of the way in which the coming of Christ affected Joseph, faster-father of Jesus. Joseph is a wonderful role-model for men in the way in which he puts Mary and Jesus first in everything he does. With the very real prospect of societal ridicule, Joseph has the courage to follow the instructions of the angel of the Lord and take Mary as his wife to his home, believing that Jesus was conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit.
Instead of putting himself and his reputation first, Joseph acts in a completely selfless way by accepting the will of God and being responsible for Jesus and Mary. Men need, now, more that ever, to follow the example of Joseph, by embracing the responsibilities that they are given and standing firm to their convictions with courage and fortitude. Men need to be not afraid, like Joseph, to follow the will of God in their lives no matter how challenging that may be.
The passage also makes reference to Emmanuel, “God-is-with-us,” as the name of the Messiah. What a wonderful description we have in this name given to our Lord. Sometimes, we feel that Christ is far away from us and feel, therefore, that our Lord is absent from our lives. Christ, however, wants us to know that he is always with us, even when we don’t feel that he is there. In the incarnation, Christ became man and in so doing, bridged the gap between God and humankind. Christ loves each of us tremendously and wants to be with us in all that we do. Even when we may not feel the presence of Christ, we must reassure ourselves that he is even closer than we can ever know, carrying us through all of life’s challenges. We must therefore not be afraid to invite Christ into our lives and in so doing allow His love to envelop our very being.
May each one of you have a truly faith-filled fourth week of Advent as we prepare to celebrate the coming our our lord and saviour, Jesus Christ.
This is how the birth of Jesus the Messiah came about: His mother Mary was pledged to be married to Joseph, but before they came together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Because Joseph her husband was faithful to the law, and yet did not want to expose her to public disgrace, he had in mind to divorce her quietly. But after he had considered this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because what is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will give birth to a son, and you are to give him the name Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: “The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Immanuel” (which means “God with us”). When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took Mary home as his wife.
– Matthew 1:18-24