December 22 : Fourth Sunday in Advent: Joseph, the just man

December 17th, 2013

First Reading       : Isaiah 7:10-16 
Psalm                    : Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19 
Second Reading : Romans 1:1-7 
Gospel                  : Matthew 1:18-25 

Today is the fourth Sunday in Advent. Christmas will dawn in few days. Matthew’s story of the birth of Jesus centres on the person of Joseph. The mystery is so great that Joseph cannot understand what is happening. In his puzzlement, the Lord calls Joseph to a remarkable act of faith and obedience. Joseph, in wordless response to the word of God communicated by an angel, rose and ‘took his wife to his home’. A total and unquestioning acceptance of the word of God is Joseph’s first action in Matthew’s infancy story. St. Joseph shows us the value of grace under pressure. He always found himself in emergency situations during the brief period of his life on earth: having to accept a young wife who is pregnant before they are married, having to travel to faraway Bethlehem, having to flee as refugees into Egypt etc. He had to face a lot of pressure, a lot of crisis and a lot of emergency situations but God’s grace was sufficient for him. St. Bernard comments that God never gives us a challenge or a call or a duty without the sufficient grace to accomplish it. Joseph leads the way and shows us the quality of trust and commitment to the coming of God, which should mark the lives of each and every one of us this Christmas.