4th Sunday in Advent, Year A – Homily

4th Sunday in Advent, Year A
Isaiah 7:10-14
Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6 (7c, 10b)
Romans 1:1-7
Matthew 1:18-24
December 18, 2016

Isaiah offers a sign to King Ahaz but the king refuses.  He tries to make his refusal look noble by saying, “I will not ask, I will not tempt the Lord!” but what is really going on is that Ahaz thinks he can do it all himself.  He has formed human alliances that he thinks will make him look great but he is wrong.  Israel will fall.

Even though Ahaz refuses to ask for a sign, Isaiah still tells of the sign that the Lord will offer, “the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”  The name “Emmanuel” means “God is with us.”

Ultimately, as Christians, we know this prophecy to be fulfilled in Mary’s giving birth to Jesus.  Ahaz would not let the Lord enter so he would have the glory of the kingship for himself.  Mary, on the other hand, responded to God with, “Behold I am the handmaid of the Lord, may be done to me according to your word.”

That is where we are at now.  Mary is pregnant.  In fact, with one week to go till Christmas, Mary is “very pregnant.”  Mary rejoiced that she had been chosen to be the mother of Jesus.  She accepted the gift of life in her womb.

However, Joseph was greatly troubled by Mary’s pregnancy.  He knew he was not the father.  To him, this had to mean that Mary had been unfaithful.  Joseph was a righteous man and was troubled as to what to do.  Jewish law would have allowed him to have her stoned but he knew he didn’t want to do that.  So, he made plans to “divorce her quietly.

That was not what God wanted.  So God sent an angel to speak to Joseph in a dream to tell him, “Do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.”  The angel told Joseph that Mary had conceived “through the Holy Spirit” and how this fulfilled the prophecy we heard in our first reading.

This was enough for Joseph.  As a righteous man, his greatest desire was to follow God’s Will.  So he did as the angel had directed and took Mary into his home and they raised Jesus together.  Now, both Mary and Joseph had said yes to the gift of life in Mary’s womb.

It wasn’t going to be an easy life.  We will hear next week at Christmas how Jesus was born and laid in a manger.  The Holy Family will have to flee to Egypt.  Mary will be at the foot of the Cross when Jesus is crucified.

Neither Mary nor Joseph had put any conditions to their “yes.”  They did not demand that raising Jesus be easy.  They simply trusted that God would get them through whatever would happen.

Because they said yes, next week we will look at the baby Jesus in the manger and say “Emmanuel, God is with us.”  For now, the image that might be most fitting is the image of Our Lady of Guadalupe, Mary pregnant.

Seeing Mary pregnant is to be an image of hope for us.  It should stir great anticipation in us of what is to come, new life.

Are you ready for this new life?

One might respond by saying we already have Jesus in our lives so of course we are ready.  True…in Baptism we receive the gift of new life but how much do we let the Lord fully enter into our lives?  Or do we keep him at a distance?  Do we keep God in just one corner of our lives?

I’ve spoken this Advent already of how much time we put into getting ready for our Christmas celebrations compared to how much time we give to God.  So how are you doing?

We look at baby Jesus and we feel joy.  We feel hope.  Why?  Because when we look at Jesus we see the “face of God.”

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