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Tuesday, December 20, 2016

A Homily - The 4th Sunday of Advent



A Homily       The Gospel of Matthew 1:18-25 ©
                        Gospel Acclamation ~ Matthew 1:23
Romans 1:1-7
                        Responsorial Psalm 23 (24) 1-6
                        Isaiah 7:10-14


1st Reading
Isaiah 7:10-14


The Lord spoke to Ahaz and said, ‘Ask the Lord your God for a sign for yourself coming either from the depths of Sheol or from the heights above.’ ‘No,’ Ahaz answered ‘I will not put the Lord to the test.’
  
Then Isaiah said:

‘Listen now, House of David:
are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men
without trying the patience of my God, too?
The Lord himself, therefore,
will give you a sign.
It is this: 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.”’


Responsorial Psalm
23 (24) 1-6


Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

The Lord’s is the earth and its fullness,
  the world and all its peoples.
It is he who set it on the seas;
  on the waters he made it firm.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

Who shall climb the mountain of the Lord?
  Who shall stand in his holy place?
The man with clean hands and pure heart,
  who desires not worthless things.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.

He shall receive blessings from the Lord
  and reward from the God who saves him.
Such are the men who seek him,
  seek the face of the God of Jacob.

Let the Lord enter! He is the king of glory.


2nd Reading
Romans 1:1-7


From Paul, a servant of Christ Jesus who has been called to be an apostle, and specially chosen to preach the Good News that God promised long ago through his prophets in the scriptures.

  This news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in him, was proclaimed Son of God in all his power through his resurrection from the dead. Through him we received grace and our apostolic mission to preach the obedience of faith to all pagan nations in honour of his name. You are one of these nations, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ. To you all, then, who are God’s beloved in Rome, called to be saints, may God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ send grace and peace.


Gospel Acclamation
Matthew 1:23


Alleluia, alleluia!
The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son
and they will call him Emmanuel,
a name which means ‘God-is-with-us’.
Alleluia!


The Gospel of the Day
Matthew 1:18-25


Spin


This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the 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 she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will 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.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’ When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home and, though he had not had intercourse with her, she gave birth to a son; and he named him Jesus.


(NJB)


The Real Story


God is not a politician. The creator of the universe is not a kingmaker. God does not give victory in battle; appointing winner and losers. God, Immanuel is with all people, at all times, in all places. God loves each, and every one of God’s children equally. God stands with all people, whether or not any of them stand with God.

All things and person have their being in God. God is the foundation of all that is. Without God there is nothing, and in nothing there is not even the possibility of something.

If you wish to climb the mountain to find God, that is fine, do it, God is there. Or, you may simply turn to your neighbor, and see God reflected in their face. God is there. See them, behold the face of God, in that holy presence give thanks, with your neighbor give thanks. 

Do not worry about your own holiness. God loved you before the creation of the world; when only the possibility of you existed, you were loved. All things, and everyone; as they are loved by God, they are holy.

Look for God’s blessing in the service you provide to your neighbor, to your mother and father, to your sister and brother. Be justified in one thing, the quality and extent of your mercy.

God is not confined to the pages of a book, or by the ink on a scroll, neither is God bounded by the history and mythology of a people. Look to those things for glimpses of God, for the remembrances of past encounters, but seek the living God in living beings.

Always bear in mind, the first time we saw God, when the first parent walked with the creator, the world was a garden, and that was paradise, there was no talk of kings, and no talk glorifying God in battle. Let us return to that.

Do good and reject evil.

Remember this; Paul was not chosen. He chose to preach the Gospel.

Remember this; Jesus was descended from David through his father Joseph.

Remember this; Jesus was not a lord or king.

Jesus lived among us an example of grace, and its fulfillment. He was not a conduit of grace. His mission was not to confer on human beings something that they lacked, but to activate in them something that is inherent.

Mary was betrothed to Joseph. Joseph was of the House of David. She became pregnant before their wedding, according to the design God had put in place for the propagation of human life.
Joseph had second thoughts about marriage, and being a father, but in a moment of conscience, listening to the spirit of grace within him, he made a choice, and he embraced the truth, taking on the responsibility to raise his child.

He took Mary as his wife; he brought her into his house. They named their child Joshua, after the great hero of the Israelites. In that trust they pinned their hopes on him, in that hope and trust (faith) they encountered the presence of God. They knew then that God was with them, inasmuch as they were with each other.

If Joseph had succumbed to his fear and weakness (and that was a real possibility), in that time and place Mary would have been destroyed. She would have become an outcast, she would have had no standing in her community, she and her child would have died.

Joseph was humbled by his weakness and doubt. In that moment he learned what it means to truly love.

If you believe it.


4th Sunday of Advent

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