4th Sunday of advent
Brethren, today is the 4th Sunday of Advent and the last Sunday before Christmas ( the birth of Jesus). The liturgical readings of today are inviting us to reflect on the theme: God fulfills his promises.
Thus in the first reading, God had fulfilled his promise to the Royal family and to the entire nation. Prophet Isaiah sent by God went to meet King Ahab asking him to make a request to the Almighty God. But the king refused to make any request for he was trying to separate himself from God through his acts and deeds: as a young king, he involved himself in idolatry by sacrificing his son. On the political level, he put his trust in the Assyrians the new masters of the Ancient Near East. However, his attitude does not make God stop his project, on the contrary God has given him a sign and according to this sign, a virgin shall conceive and give to a son.
The first announcement of a virgin conceiving is about the restoration of the Davidic kingdom but there is a second announcement of a virgin conceiving and this is about the birth of the Messiah, the one who will come to restore all things and this person is Jesus Christ.
Thus in the Gospel of today, we hear how saint Joseph has collaborated with God.
In the Jewish culture, once the dowry is given, the girl can move to her spouse’s home. This happened before Mary and Joseph could reach that stage, Mary was found pregnancy. What to do? Saint Joseph is a righteous man ( a man full of mercy and compassion) who decided in secret to divorce Mary. While he was thinking, reflecting, and contemplating this situation, the angel appeared and explained to him the mystery of the Incarnation and was advised to take Mary as his wife. Through the acceptance of Joseph, the second person of the Trinity has found a home, and a family, and he has entered into human history.
That is why in the second reading, Saint Paul gave the historical fact to the Romans about the lineage of Jesus Christ. Christ is the legitimate grandson of king David, the Messiah who was to come.
Brethren, as we are reflecting on the theme: God fulfills his promises on this last Sunday of Advent, we are called upon to avail ourselves in order that the promises of God may be fulfilled in our lives. Therefore, three conditions are required: (1) relying on God, (2) discerning the voice of the Lord (3) accepting the identity of the Messiah.
1. Relying on God: Many of us behaved exactly like king Ahab in the first reading. We want to push our ideas through; by doing so, we do not give room to God to suggest anything to us anymore. We become arrogant and selfish because we don’t need God. Dear friends, without collaborating with the grace of God, our lives resemble people who have no intelligence or wisdom. It’s through that today, many people have rejected God but they continue flourishing in many aspects however, we don’t know how their lives end. So today, the first reading is inviting us to rely on God at all times if we want him to fulfill great things in our lives. Let us also pray for those who have rejected God, that the Spirit of the Lord should bring them back.
2. Discerning the voice of the Lord: In the Gospel of today, Saint Joseph has shown us how to discern the voice of the Lord. It’s true that he had another plan concerning his wife Mary however, after listening to the inner voice, after encountering God through the angel, he has changed his mind. At times, our thinking is not the best. Human thinking has its own limitations and this is one concrete example. Dear friends, do we really do discernment before taking major decisions? or do we just take decisions based on our human capability? As Christians, we are called upon to seek the guidance of the Holy Spirit before taking decisions.
3. Accepting the identity of the Messiah: From the first of December, many shopping malls, and some institutions were already decorated because Christmas is around the corner. But the question is do we really know the identity of Christ? Today, many of us (Catholics) celebrate Christmas without any spirituality in other words, we don’t really know who is Jesus and what has he done for us. Therefore, the second reading of today is drawing our attention to the identity of Jesus.
Brethren, once we fulfill these three conditions, the promises of God also will be fulfilled in our lives. May God help us to engage ourselves in this noble path, Amen.
Fr. Issere Agre