HOMILY/REFLECTION OF THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT, YEAR A
Theme: Christ the Goodnews, our Peace (Is.7:10-14; Rom.1:1-7; Mt.1:1-18).
In the previous weeks of Advent, we reflected about Hope, love and joy. Today is the 4th week our reflection centres on peace which Christ brings. There are many ways to attain marriage in our African societies.
Marriage can be arranged for a boy and a girl by their parents in order to cement the bond of friendship between the two families. A young girl can also be betrothed to a man so that when she or they grow, they can marry. This could be the case of Mary and Joseph. It happened that before Mary could move to Joseph’s house, she already had the revelation.
The problem arose when Mary moved into Joseph’s home. According to the Jews tradition, if a woman is caught in adultery, she can be stoned, cf Jn. 8:4. On another note, if a woman was pregnant outside the marriage, the husband would divorce her. In this situation, Mary just came in and Joseph discovered she was already pregnant. Perhaps she confided on Joseph and told him what transpired.
In Mat.1:19 Joseph was addressed as an upright man who did not want to disgrace her. He decided to divorce her informally. It was at this point that the angel appeared to him in a dream and told him not to be afraid to take Mary home because, she conceived through the power of the Holy Spirit. She would give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins cf. Mt. 1:20-21. The Angel then referred Joseph in verse 23 “Look! the Virgin is with child and will give birth to a son whom they will call Immanual, a name which means ‘God is with us”. This served as a confirmation of Isaiah’ s prophesy in Is. 7:14.
Prophet Micah also mentioned it in Mic.5:1. Joseph had the option of rejecting that dream. He would have protected his personal ego and integrity above every other thing, as some of us do. Ofcourse if he rejected the dream, that marriage would not hold. He would not have stopped the salvific work of God, rather, he would not have been an instrument that God used. He would have missed that greatest blessing in human history. God would have used some other person.
Most us today will opt out of that marriage in the name of obeying our custom. Ofcourse, many so called Christians of today hold the custom of their land higher than ordinances of God. Out of pride and ego, many of us have rejected God’s blessing in their lives. So many marriages and homes are broken today because of pride and personal ego. We are not ready to let go or allow the will of God. Instead, we say, “over our dead body.” Such unforgiving statements are unchristian.
Ofcourse it will never give us peace of mind and or in our home. We should allow God to take control of every problem by letting things go. Joseph did so and God removed his worries and gave him peace. When we do so, we have peace in our hearts and in our families. Chrismass is a time to welcome the Gospel of peace.
One thing remarkable about Joseph and Mary was that they were ever ready to accept the will of God in their lives.
Mary was disturbed in Lk. 1:29 when the angel visited her and gave her message about the child. But in verse 38, she said let it be done to me according to your will. Joseph was worried about Mary’s pregnancy,but after much thought and divine encounter, he accepted the will of God.
Christ Himself was worried at Gethsemane, but He allowed the will of God, Lk 22:42; Mt.26-42; Mk14-36. They were remarkable for accepting the will of God. Joseph did not go to tell his family members, kinsmen and friends about Mary.
He gave it a thought and decided to protect her pride. He sought for divine wisdom and got the revelation. As soon as he had the divine encounter, peace was restored into his life and home. The Gospel of today reminded us that, good news most often comes with difficulties. We may be worried when it comes.
It can come into marriages or families with misunderstanding and problems beyond human comprehension which, if we do not wait on the Lord, our families can scatter. If we seek divine assistance, it may turn into a message of salvation which brings laughter at last. Every problem comes with good news.
On another note, Is. 55:9 said, God’s ways are not our ways. He has tender heart to the lowly ones. He would have chosen to be born in a King’s palace but he preferred a menger in a carpenter’s family. He took a human body in a lowly family, with lowly hearts to raise us as adopted children of God. He did not choose those with higher social standing.
Virtue was the scale he used in weighing men. God goes beyond science and philosophy in His deeds. It is only when we accept the will of God as Joseph did that we can have peace in our lives.
1. Trials and tribulations must come into our lives and families in one way or the other. Having heard that Mary was pregnant, Joseph was bothered . It was a big trial to him.
2.Do not be in a haste to either judge or condemn. He was not in a haste to condemn Mary rather, he chose a compassionate yet just course of action.
3. Apply prayer. As Joseph pondered and applied prayer about his choice, the Holy Spirit showed him a different course to take.
4. Wait on the Lord. Every trial has good news attached to it. It is only when we wait on God that we rip the fruit that comes with the trial.
5. We are instruments in the hands of God. It is only when we allow God to use us that we can have peace.
6. Always let go. Do not always hold every problem to heart. It will not give you peace of mind. It can equally shatter your home.
7. Without the help of the Spirit, we will find it hard to grasp the purpose and goal for our lives. But as we quiet our hearts and allow the Spirit to reveal to us the truths of the scripture, we will begin to understand the Gospel more fully including the individual calling that God has for each of us.
May God bless His words in our hearts through Christ our Lord. Happy Sunday dearest in Christ.
The Lord be with you
–Fr Emmanuel Uchechukwu Muodebelu C.S.Sp.