After three Sundays of Advent with no mention of the birth of Jesus in our Scripture readings at Mass, finally we have them today, the fourth and final Sunday of Advent. In our first reading, Isaiah the prophet and king Ahaz of Judah have a dramatic encounter amid the threat of an attack against Jerusalem and the king’s efforts to build up the city’s defenses. Isaiah challenges the king to consider what he is doing to secure his kingdom’s relationship with God. Isaiah invites the king to choose any sign at all that will convince him of God’s love and protection over the city. Isaiah wants the king to trust that the attack he so much fears will never materialize. Surprisingly, the king refuses the invitation to trust. He already has his own plans in place and feels that asking for a sign from God will be an imposition. Isaiah has had enough of such talk! The king is already making the people weary with his fears and limited thinking. Isaiah reproaches the king for this latest example showing his lack of faith, which the prophet imagines must by now be proving tiresome to God as well. Isaiah announces that God is going to give the king a sign that will make it perfectly clear his fear of attack is entirely without foundation. A virgin will conceive and bear a son who will be given the name Emmanuel, meaning, “God is with us.” This name will give testimony to the faith of that young woman, who knew of God’s power to save and give life. Her faith stands in stark contrast to the lack of faith displayed by King Ahaz and his royal household.
In Matthew’s gospel account today, his focus is on another person of faith – Joseph. In the Gospel proclaimed on the Solemnity of the Immaculate Conception, we heard Mary say “yes” to God’s plan for her life – even though she did not totally understand what God was asking of her. Today we hear Joseph give his “yes” also – to the dream, the angel’s message, and to the responsibility of being a husband and a foster father.
Although we have little time even to consider saying “yes” to one more thing, this is exactly what God is inviting us to do! Consider opportunities to say, “yes” to His invitation between now and Christmas Day. While Christmas celebrates the Word made flesh, Christ has no body now but yours, to carry on His mission. Some suggestions….invite someone without family to join yours for Christmas dinner. Leave a card and small gift for neighbors or at the nursing home. Take a plate of homemade cookies to a new mom or make a generous donation to a charity. What IS God asking you to do to celebrate Christmas?
Have a Blessed Christmas in 3 days!