Saturday, December 18, 2010

4th Sunday of Advent

Mt 1:18-24

"Joseph, do not be afraid to take Mary home as you wife."

St Joseph is a remarkable character. Not one word of his is uttered in the scriptures. After the first few chapters of Matthew and Luke we hear nothing more about him. Still he has managed to be a source of great devotion over the centuries. He is inextricably linked to the story of the Nativity. He is Mary's wife and the protector of the Holy Family. His life is thrown upside down at the Annunciation as much as Mary's is. Just like Mary he had to trust in the will of God; and after being reassured took Mary home as his wife.

St Joseph, I think, is a model for us at this moment in history. Here in Ireland, we have had a momentous year; and not always for positive reasons. There is a great sense of foreboding as we face the future. The world has not ended, and most people get on with their lives, but there is a general feeling of unease and disappointment in the ether. Of course this is not helped by the a constant bombardment of grave and serious news in the general media; 'it has never been as bad', 'it is going to get worse'.
What has this to do with St Joseph and the forth Sunday of Advent? Well, allot, it could be argued. Without any deep exegesis on the meaning of words, I would like to share with you my take on what is happening in the Gospel. St Joseph is terrified. All the social conventions and mores are clicking into place, because the woman he is hoping to spend the rest of his life with is pregnant; and all he knows is - he has nothing to do with it. Even if he is a man of honour he wants to run. The Angel in the dream reassures him and he stays.

If we as preachers believe in God-with-us, we have to reassure those to whom we speak that this is so. As we approach Christmas, every preacher at every Altar or in every pulpit must scream GOD IS WITH US! And no matter what should happen to us as individuals or as a community this does not change. The new and ever lasting covenant written in the blood of the Lamb is the guarantee of this. As we approach Christmas, this is what we celebrate. It is not a case of the Baby being born again, as if He is not here already. The Word as made flesh, and in that flesh we have become part of God's eternity. St Joseph had to believe that the plan of God unfolding in his life was blessed. He had to trust that what was happening to him was part of the plan God had for him too.

St Joseph was afraid. He was ready to skip town, but the voice of assurance that God was with him gave him strength and courage. May we who believe listen for the voice of the angel and reassure all with whom we share our journey know that the Virgin is with child - God is with us.

No comments:

Post a Comment