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Fourth Sunday of Advent

Regina, CND Associate

Regina is the Co-coordinator of the Associate Relationship for Blessed Sacrament Province. Her reflection reveals how the Advent scriptures bring light to our life’s concerns.

When I’m stressed or overwhelmed, I say a prayer and tell myself to turn the problem over to Jesus. I do this pretty often and since I don’t want to wear out my welcome, I switch over to others including Mary, Marguerite Bourgeoys and Therese of Lisieux. This advent season I’ve been worried about my sister and her accelerating memory loss which is more and more pronounced over time. My mother suffered from early onset Alzheimer’s and my anxiety is palpable and affecting my ability to focus and stay somewhat centered.

The other day I was thinking about writing this reflection and feeling stuck about how to approach the readings. These are wonderful readings for this fourth Sunday of Advent, Isaiah telling us that the Lord himself will give us a sign that the virgin “shall conceive and bear a son and shall name him Emmanuel.” Paul called to be an apostle “greets the community at Rome and declares himself a servant of Christ Jesus.”

Our gospel reading from Matthew tells us “how the birth of Jesus came about.” It’s the miraculous story of how Joseph learns Mary is with child through the Holy Spirit. His initial reaction “since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, (he) decided to divorce her quietly.”

Imagine his despair when first hearing the news. As he sleeps that night “the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream.” He is reassured and told to wed Mary who will bear him a son “who will be named Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”

At this point, Joseph, acting in the name of humanity has to accept the Divine. As he moves into acceptance he makes a giant leap of faith beyond our imagination. As the gospel tells us, “all this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet.

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means God is with us.”

Joseph’s act of courage inspires us to believe the impossible and test the limits of our faith. We witness faith with conviction which allows him to transcend the rational and allow the Spirit to take hold. In this gospel, Joseph is the key to the prophecy being fulfilled. His hope and belief in the Divine shines a light into the dark corners of the world.

As far as the situation with my sister goes, I realized when I was praying over these readings and hoping for some insight and inspiration, that I had a new player on the bench. This time I think I’ll turn it over to Joseph.


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