December 18, 2016

4th Sun., Advent

December 18, 2016:  Fourth Sunday of Advent

See 13 connections with today?
Legend below
Listen

For Psalm 24
Pope Francis Angelus

Look for time this week to pause, be silent, and imagine Mary and Joseph on their way to Bethlehem.  The journey with its fatigue and joy, the commotion, their anxiety looking for a place to stay,....  The crèche helps.  Seek to enter into the true Nativity, Jesus', to receive the grace of this feast, love, humility and tenderness.

Read
  • Is 7:10-14  Ahaz, ask for a sign / I won't test God / Lord will give sign:  virgin shall bear a son and name him Emmanuel.
  • Ps 24:1-6  "Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory."  God founded the world, will reward the clean-hearted.
    Wordle: Readings 12-22-13
  • Rom 1:1-7  Paul, set apart for the gospel about our Lord Jesus Christ, descended from David but established as Son of God through resurrection.  We received the grace of apostleship through him.  You're called to belong to Christ.
  • Mt 1:18-24  Mary was found with child.  Joseph decided to divorce her quietly to keep her from shame, but the angel said, “Take her into your home; the child was conceived through the Spirit.  Name him Jesus; he'll save his people.”  Joseph awoke and obeyed.
Reflect
  • Today's O Antiphon:  O Adonai, Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai:  come to rescue us with your mighty power!
    • Creighton:  We're so focused on Mary and Baby Jesus that we can overlook Joseph consenting to take pregnant Mary as his wife.  If I had a dream where an angel commanded me to do something similar, I'd thank heaven it was just a dream.  Think of when you've felt God's call.  Just listen and act in faith even if the meaning is unclear.
    • One Bread, One Body:  "Christmas by faith, not sight":  Joseph believed Mary was pregnant by the Holy Spirit because God's grace was given to him in a dream.  Many would consider him a fool, but we recognize him as a man of great faith.  Like him, to receive Christ this Christmas, we need the gift of faith.  Lord, increase our faith....
    • Passionist:  Fear and faith are often gateways to a lesser or greater life; both are embedded in the human spirit.  Fear often comes first, but faith can follow with deep conviction.  Fear can freeze us; faith can overcome obstacles and allow us to reach beyond ourselves.  In today's gospel Joseph was initially afraid, but the dream led him to faith; he chose to trust and obey God in spite of doubts he might have had.  Matthew highlights Joseph's actions and Luke Mary's, but both are overcome by the discovery of Jesus’ impending birth, yet both put it aside and move towards faith and obedience.  God’s plan had to take shape in Joseph and Mary:  pregnancy, birth, parenting, formation.... For Jesus, as for us, new life came in pregnancy but is formed in family and through others' sacrifice. Perhaps this explains the stress on Mary's finding a ‘home’ with Joseph and his extended family.  Jesus was born of a woman, but grew and belonged in a family and community.  May we open our hearts to create a ‘home’ for the Lord and renew our resolve to be ‘family’ to each other.
    • DailyScripture.net:  "He will save his people from their sins":  When apostate king Ahaz, heir to David's throne, was surrounded, God offered him a sign to reassure him God would keep his promise, but the king, despairing, refused to ask for it.  God nevertheless gave a sign that he'd give them a Savior to rule with peace and justice.  We too are called “in hope to believe against hope” that God will keep his promises.
    Asked to assume great responsibility and risk,  Mary faced a great challenge to her faith and to her family's.  They were asked to accept that a child would be born without a natural father.  Pregnancy outside wedlock was not tolerated; Joseph, her family, and her people could have all rejected her, but she still trusted in God's promises.  Joseph didn't want to embarrass or punish her, even though it seemed she'd been unfaithful.  He likely turned to prayer instead of judging rashly; God rewarded him with guidance, consolation, and assurance that God had called him to a mission requiring great faith, as Mary's husband, and he believed, took Mary as his wife, accepted the child.  Do I believe God's promises even when faced with problems?
    Dress legend
    • 'Dove' pin:  God established his Son in power according to the Spirit (2nd reading); Mary was found with child through the Spirit (gospel)
    • 'Alps' tie pin:  Who can ascend the Lord's mountain?...  (psalm)
    • 'Hands' pin:  One whose hands are sinless,...  (psalm)
    • 'Heart' pin:  ...whose heart is clean (psalm)
    • 'Phone' tie bar:  You're 'called' to belong to Christ (2nd reading)
    • 'Peace sign' tie bar:  Grace and peace from our Father and the Lord Jesus (2nd reading)
    • 'Mary' pin:  Mary was found with child through the Spirit (gospel); behold, a virgin shall conceive (1st reading)
    • 'Angel' pin:  The angel appeared to Joseph in a dream (gospel)
    • 'Tie with signs':  Signs:  A virgin shall bear a son (1st reading, gospel), 
    • Blue shirt:  The Lord founded the world on the seas, established it on the rivers (psalm)
    • Purple suspenders:  Advent (season)
    • Christmas pin (legend):  Nativity Novena AKA Advent II (subseason)