Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent – December 22, 2019
The readings for the fourth Sunday of Advent take our attention away from John the Baptist, who was called to prepare the way, to Joseph and Mary, major characters in the Christmas narrative. The first reading from the prophet Isaiah speaks of the virgin who “shall conceive and bear a son and call him Emmanuel.” The Gospel presents us with the dilemma of Joseph: Mary with child before she and Joseph lived together. Mary had already said her “yes” to what God had asked of her through the angel Gabriel. Now it was Joseph’s turn. The journey of both Joseph and Mary was one of listening to the Spirit, surprise, pondering and finally acceptance of what God was asking of each of them in spite of the appearances. Their responses remind me of Saint Angela Merici’s words: “Act, move, believe, strive, hope, cry out to Him with all your heart, for without doubt you will see marvelous things….” (Prologue to the Counsels). For Mary the marvelous thing was becoming the Mother of God. For Joseph it was a little different. His act was to take Mary into his home. Sounds easy, but what does it mean to take someone into your home? Whether it is done literally or figuratively, it means change, transformation, surprise. For Joseph, it meant changing his life from a simple carpenter to the protector of Jesus and Mary and forgoing what was expected of him.
This Advent we may not be called to take someone into our home literally but perhaps figuratively. Who in your home or family is the outcast, the different or difficult one? What can you do this Advent season to change that? What word or gesture of yours can invite someone to transformation? This Advent be attentive to the inspirations of the Spirit regarding the needs of friends or family. Again in the words of St. Angela, “And above all obey the counsels and inspirations which the Holy Spirit unceasingly sends into our hearts.” (Chapter 8, On Obedience). What is God calling you to do?
Sr. Catherine Talia, OSU