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Advent Sunday 4 - God is with us

Sunday, December 23, 2007
Readings: Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 23; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-25

Today we are presented with two similar scenarios. Ahaz and St. Joseph are both in difficult situations. They have made up their minds on how to proceed, but then they hear the Word of God. Joseph is changed, but Ahaz is not.

Ahaz, King of Judah is living in fear for his life. Two armies are marching towards Jerusalem with the intention of deposing him. Faced with such a prospect, Ahaz puts his faith in his Assyrian allies. Isaiah comes to remind Ahaz that he should only place his faith in God. It is in this context that the sign of hope, the birth of Immanuel is prophesized – God’s promise that everything is going to be ok. Ahaz rejects the message quoting Deuteronomy as a rather feeble excuse.

Contrast this with Joseph, who no doubt could have found a passage of scripture to justify not taking Mary as his wife. Instead, he hears the Word of God and it changes him.

Faced with the problems of the world today, we should reflect on how we can be more like Joseph and less like Ahaz. Maybe the difference between Joseph and Ahaz is expressed in today’s psalm, Joseph being the man with clean hands and pure heart, who desires not worthless things. Where does that leave us whose hands and hearts are stained by sin? If we fully embrace the sacraments, our hands can be cleansed and our hearts purified. In this way we can grow into the Body of Christ. The prophecy is fulfilled – God is truly with us.

Robert Verrill OP


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