A HOMILY FOR THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT – CYCLE “A” – DECEMBER 22ND 2019 – SMG
+ Pax et Bonum! Peace and goodness to you!
You know, our images of fatherhood have changed a good deal over the years. Somewhere along the line, we went from Ward Cleaver, and John Walton, Sr., and Mike Brady, to Vito Corleone, and Darth Vader, and Homer Simpson. Things are different. And our ideas of fatherhood are also different. How men live out the vocation of fatherhood is a real concern at the end of 2019. We have a lot of absent fathers. We have fathers who don’t know how to be fathers, because they never had a father themselves. The economy, the recent wars that our country has been involved in Iraq and in Afghanistan, the rates of divorce and remarriage, all of these things and more have changed the way that we look at fatherhood, and by virtue of that change, have also changed the way that we look at motherhood. Not all of this change has been bad. But not all of this change has been good either.
As we come to Mass today we’re hearing St. Matthew’s version of the introduction to the Nativity story. He’s getting up all set up, for Jesus to be born. We know that there are only two of the Gospels that have the stories of Jesus’s birth, what are called the “Infancy narratives”, and those are the Gospels of St. Matthew and St. Luke. While St. Luke emphasizes the role of Mary and Mary’s perspective in Jesus’ birth, St. Matthew, who is coming from a much more Jewish point of view, strongly emphasizes St. Joseph’s role in the nativity of the Lord. And today we can see that in our Gospel text. The angel comes to St. Joseph. It is St. Joseph who agrees to God’s will, and takes Mary into his home. It is St. Joseph who agrees to raise this child that he really doesn’t understand where He came from. And it is St. Joseph who trust God enough to know, that if all this has happened, there must be some reason for it all, and that God will take care of them. It is a new vision of the faithful father and a fatherhood based on trusting in God. And it is this way that we, all of us, fathers and mothers, parents and non-parents, young and old, are all called to live this week, as we enter this shortened Fourth Week of Advent. And St. Joseph is a great role model for all of us, as we enter these last days of our Advent season.
You see, St. Joseph is the recipient in our Gospel reading today, of a promise that have been given by the Prophet Isaiah, 700 years before the birth of Christ. That promise had been given to the House of David. A maiden would bear a son who would be named “Emmanuel”, “God is with us”. As we heard it described in our first reading today, Isaiah says that it is something unique and mysterious, something that only Good in His power could bring about. It is a powerful promise. For St. Joseph it was a life-changing promise!
In St. Matthew’s Gospel today, St. Joseph becomes then becomes the specific recipient of this promise of God. And as God’s own angel gives him the consolation and peace that Scripture and God’s will are being fulfilled, St. Joseph finds the courage to obey God’s will and design, he takes Mary into his home and he becomes the human father of the Son of God.
Now, that’s St. Joseph! Can you imagine the preparations and all the things that he had to do, the four days before the first Christmas? Makes our list maybe not seem that bad! You and I are not called to such a lofty and mysterious role as being the parents of the Christ child, but make no mistake about it, YOU AND I are CALLED, especially in these final days before Christmas, to be inheritors of the exact same promise that Isaiah made 2700 years ago! That promise, that was so much a part of both Joseph AND Mary’s lives, two thousand years ago, continues to unfold through every generation of the Church, in the past two thousand years. And just as God used St. Joseph in specific ways to fulfill His promise to His people, so too today He wants, He needs, to you use you and me, to fulfill the same promise in 2019, almost 2020! The promise is renewed in every person who has come to accept new life in Jesus Christ, all over again! Our participation in the life of Christ will show itself in our individual vocations, our state in life, and in our strengths and weaknesses. Some will enter religious life, and the diaconate, and the priesthood, some may remain single, and many will marry and have a family. Wherever God places us, whatever God has us do, that is where we live out our divine call and experience the long-cherished promise at the heart of our Faith!
My brothers and sisters, today it is you and I who are on the threshold of our celebration of the birth of Christ. Today, we already thank God for His promise of a Savior, both as a Savior and as the One Who is going to return in glory. And it’s not even Christmas yet! We await the fulfillment of God’s promise. Not just two thousand years ago in Bethlehem, but even more so, here and now, in our world. This promised Jesus IS our salvation! He is worth our hope and expectation. Let us look forward to this Wednesday!
+ May God bless us in these final days of Advent, Father, Son, and Holy Spirit… AMEN !!!
St. Maria Goretti… Pray for us!!!