Lectionary Reflection: Fourth Sunday of Advent, Year A

Lectionary Readings: Is 7:10-14 / Ps 24 / Rom 1:1-7 / Mt 1:18-24

Since the beginning of Advent, we have been hearing about the “second coming” of Christ in glory. This may sound overwhelming and perhaps even makes us afraid. I admit, sometimes thinking and hearing about the last days makes me scared. 

Being afraid – that seems to be the feeling that goes through the figures of Advent, most evident in the figures of Mary and Joseph. The angel assures both in separate annunciations, “do not be afraid”. Some may question why Mary and Joseph should be scared? Isn’t it an honour to be a mother and father of the Saviour of the world? 

We must look at the historical context of this bible story. At the time of the annunciation, Mary was only engaged to Joseph (as the Gospel states) and therefore technically still a “single” woman. If Mary had affairs and became pregnant outside of marriage, she could have been stoned to death. Imagine you were to conceive a child and say that it happened by the “power of the Holy Spirit”, at the time of Mary, who would believe? Therefore, Joseph was set in a very tough position and knowing this fact, it makes sense why Joseph “planned to dismiss her quietly.” (Mt 1:19) 

Both Mary and Joseph had the choice to turn down what the Angel announced to them. Yet, even with fears within them, they said “yes” to God. Some may ask why, and how they found the courage to do so? The reason is simple – they recognized that God is with them – Emmanuel. In recognizing so, they found an inner sense of peace because they understood that whatever happens, God will be accompanying them along the way. They recognized that when they surrender their lives into God’s hands, only good can come out of it because God himself, is all good. 

We should ask ourselves today, do I recognize God’s presence within my life? If no, we may need to be humble before the Lord, have some humility within us to recognize that God is present within our lives and that we need him in our lives. When we have the mindset that I can do this without God, we start to sow in ourselves pride. When we start to let pride tak charge in our lives, we start to cast God’s presence away from us. That is what our ancestors, Adam and Eve did. Their pride was the factor that lead them to their act of disobedience towards God. Pride leads us to the mindset that we ourselves our gods – but in reality, no one can be like God, the almighty. 

Mary and Joseph had humility within them. That is what allowed Emmanuel within both of them and allowed them to surrender to the will of God because they knew that God had bigger plans than theirs, and they fully cooperated in God’s plan for them and for the human race. Their obedience to God allowed God’s presence to follow them wherever they went, even in hardships. This is ever so present in Mary as she stood at the foot of the cross, on which hung her crucified Son. Yet even until that moment, she surrendered to God’s plan and cooperated in God’s plan for salvation May we too, surrender ourselves to the plan of God with the understanding that God is good, and only desires what is good for his children. Through that, we can let Emmanuel enter our lives and transform us in unthinkable ways.

About Vincent Pham

Known as The Catholic Man by many of his friends, Vincent is a student of the University of Toronto’s Trinity College of the Faculty of Arts and Science. He hopes to pursue a double major in Ethics, Law and Society, and Christianity and Culture. Vincent is an alumni of Chaminade College School in Toronto (Class of 2019). He has a great love for all things Catholic, especially Catholic liturgy.
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