“Who can ascend the mountain of the Lord? Or who may stand in His holy place? One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean, who desires not what is vain.” (Psalm 24:3-4)
Reflections on the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent (December 18, 2022): IS 7:10-14; PS 24:1-2,3-4,5-6; ROM 1:1-7; MT 1:18-24
MISSIO offers “Preaching Mission,” as a homily help, providing connections to mission from the readings of Sundays, Feast Days and Holy Days.
The Eternal Father draws us to Himself through His only begotten Son, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit.
As we enter the final week of Advent, we are called to contemplate the imminent arrival of the Messiah and Redeemer of all God’s people. The reading from Isaiah reminds us that the Almighty has always had the welfare of His children in His eternal plans. When the Jewish king Ahaz is busy making political and military plots, the prophet tells him to ask for a sign from God who will show His concern for them. However, the king either does not understand or just prefers to continue with his own designs. Angered at his attitude, Isaiah announces that “The Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel” (Isaiah 7:14). The Almighty will provide for His much-loved children in a way surpassing our own human thought. And, while we first hear the name Emmanuel from Isaiah, we hear it again in today’s Gospel as well as its meaning which is God is with us. The idea that God is truly with His people is essential to the entire relationship between the Blessed Trinity and all of us. St. Bede the Venerable, a medieval monk and author who is recognized as a Doctor of the Church, wrote that, “The name God-with-us … signifies that two natures are united in His one Person. Before time began He was God, born of the Father, but in the fullness of time He became Emmanuel, God with us, in the womb of His Mother, because when the Word was made flesh and lived among us He deigned to unite our frail human nature to His own Person.”
The Eternal Father draws us to Himself through His only begotten Son, born of the Blessed Virgin Mary through the power of the Holy Spirit. Mary heard and obeyed God’s call to become the Mother of God. The last words of the reading from St. Matthew today tell us that St. Joseph also heard and obeyed. While Mary became the Mother of Jesus Christ and St. Joseph became His foster father, protector, and guide, we, too, in our own way, are summoned to hear and obey the will of God. As the 24th Psalm says, if we want to ascend the mountain of the Lord, we need do what is good, right and just; in other words, to belong to Him, to love and serve Him rather than ourselves. We need to remember that our Lord is, indeed, always with us.