Third week of Advent
Gospel: Mt 1: 18-25
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 be with child 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. He had no relations with her until she bore a son, and he named him Jesus.
DO NOT BE AFRAID: Sometimes due to fear and life problems, we find it difficult to sleep. Joseph too, could not comprehend that Mary had conceived before marriage. In dealing with his anxiety, the Angel assured him, “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife”. He listened to God’s voice, believed and acted, as per the dream. God tells us many times, “Do not be afraid” when faced with challenges. In the Bible we see stories of God’s gift of courage to Abraham, Moses, David and even to Mary. Yet for all of them, accepting the plan of God in their lives brought freedom from fear. Only when one surrenders to the mysteries of God, is fear driven away. Today, God is telling us not to fear. He is inviting us to surrender our problems of ill health and all other challenges to Him.
PRAYER: Lord Jesus, help me not to fear life challenges.
IN PURSUIT OF ‘THE EMMANUEL’: Jeremiah sounds a clarion call for the coming of the righteous one. His hallmark is that he deals wisely and executes justice and righteousness in the land (Jer 23:5). Judah and Israel will experience safety and security in his times. The righteous Joseph is a bit bewildered by the messages from the angel. He is to care for a baby who will in years mature into the savior. Joseph is open to suggestions and even the name of ‘his son’ is determined from above. At a time when for many, pregnancy and childbirth is such a trouble, when even first time mothers tend to say: “I somehow want to get away from this cargo and be free for myself”, ‘this father’ believed “That which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”. When you nurture a passion for the higher you will be dispassionate to the lower. The sight of the divine in your visions, help you shed your interest in the trifles. Let us focus on the promised savior, the certain salvation, than swim in a bubble of illusions.
JOSEPH, DO NOT BE AFRAID: On this third day of the novena to the Solemnity of Christmas the readings pre-empt the event of Christmas so that we get an opportunity to reflect on the depth of the event we are going to celebrate. The focus here, however, is Joseph. In the gospel of Matthew, the annunciation of the angel is to Joseph, and not to Mary. The passage invites us to acknowledge the possible difficulties that Joseph had to go through to make the first Christmas happen: social shame and psychological agony. Yet, Joseph is willing to cooperate with the plan of God, to let go off his personal plan, so as to bring forth to the world the Emmanuel – God with us. He is righteous not because he obeyed some rules, in fact, he did not, but because he cooperated with the plan of God for the world.