Fourth Week of Advent : Reflection

With Christmas now just one week away, in our final Advent reflection Joseph McGill from the Diocese of Paisley, reflects on the readings of the Fourth Sunday of Advent.

As we approach the end of the season of Advent, and the final preparations for the great feast of the Nativity of Our Lord are made, we are reminded of the expectant nature of the event of the coming of our Lord.

We hear the sign given to the prophet Isaiah, “the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel, a name which means “God-is-with-us.” Advent, the great season of preparation for the birth of Christ, in its final week is full of anticipation of the great event that we celebrate on the 25th December.

However, for St Joseph, this event was anything but expected. His plans were for a quiet divorce, after learning that Mary was with child. However mercifully that was not to be. Thanks to the faith of Joseph, Mary did not face the danger of stoning, the punishment of the day for pregnancy before wedlock. Think of the humility of Joseph: in believing the message of the Angel and taking Mary into his home, he was not only taking a woman who had conceived by the Holy Spirit, but also God himself. We must remember too that as the head of the house, Joseph had authority over Mary and Christ – both without sin. What humility Joseph showed as leading the Holy Family, as he exercised true fatherhood and authority.

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The Angel of the Lord appears to St. Joseph in a painting by an unknown artist.

In the sacred scripture there are many examples of how to live one’s life, and although he is only mentioned a few times, St Joseph’s obedience in faith to God’s plan for his life should inspire us. To all eyes it would seem that Mary had been unfaithful, but Joseph believed the message of the angel, ‘she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit’. St Joseph, like Mary, is a model of faith for us. Are we as ready as he was to believe? Are we as ready to accept the message of God, even in difficult circumstances or problems that seem insurmountable? Taking the example of Joseph, we must be quick to believe and obey.

This is a season centered on the birth of Christ, however for that plan to come to pass, both Mary and Joseph had to say ‘yes.’ All of salvation history hung first on Mary’s ‘yes’, and then subsequently on the ‘yes’ that Joseph gave.

How can we practice the humility and obedience of Joseph? By earnestly seeking the will of God for our lives, remembering that as Paul writes to the Romans we are ‘called to be saints.’

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