Ready to Receive Mary’s Child, Emmanuel
Readings: 1st: Is 7:10-14; Ps: 23:1-6; 2nd: Rom 1:1- 7; Gos: Mt 1:18-24
This brief reflection was written by Fr. Njoku Canice Chukwuemeka, C.S.Sp. He is a Catholic Priest and a member of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans). He is a missionary in Puerto Rico. He is the Parish Priest of Parroquia la Resurrección del Senor, Canóvanas, and the Major Superior of the Congregation of the Holy Spirit (Spiritans), Circumscription of Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic. He was the chancellor of the Diocese of Fajardo Humacao, Puerto Rico. Fr. Canice is a member of the Academy of Homiletics. For more details and comments contact him at:
Today is the fourth Sunday of Advent. Our expectations shall be fulfilled in a couple of days, and the birth of the Messiah will justify our efforts and patience. These few days call for more caution and vigilance.
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The sign God revealed to us on this Sunday of Advent is highly significant. God’s choice of the messiah was from the house of David. However, Mary’s child belongs to all nations. So, we all form part of the nations. This is through God’s love and invitation to share in Christ’s heritage. Hence, Christ is coming for the sake of all of us.
In the first reading of this Sunday, God gave us the most significant and definitive signs about the Messiah: “A maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Emmanuel, which means God is with us!” It is important to note that this sign was given to king Ahaz only after he humbled himself by refusing to put God to the test.
Hence the lessons here include that we must allow God to be God without trying to preempt him. Second, we must learn to trust God’s judgment and goodwill for us. Third, we need not run after signs anymore because God has given us the fullness of revelation in Jesus Christ. The fourth is that if we humble ourselves, God will reveal “the mystery of his will, according to his purpose, which he set forth in Christ” (Eph 1:9).
Both the second reading and the gospel of today are narratives about the birth and life of Christ. They remind us that the signs that God gave to us through the prophets (that is, the signs which are the foundation of our hope this season) are not “flatus vocis” (empty words). Instead, they are genuine and fulfilled in Christ.
Hence, in the second reading, Paul reminds us of the promises that came through the words of the prophets. Here, he highlighted three essential facts. First, he reminds us of Christ’s divine origin and nature: “This is the good news about Christ, the son of God.” Second, he reminds us of Christ’s human origin and character: “Who according to the human nature he took was from the descendant of David…” All these were to assure us that Christ is the promised Messiah. The third fact is about our relationship with Christ. That is, how we fit into God’s plan and his economy of salvation: “You are one such nation, and by his call belong to Jesus Christ.” Through this, Paul reminds us of our heritage Christ.
In today’s gospel, Matthew narrates “how Jesus was born.” Like Paul, Matthew, in his infancy narrative, traced Jesus’ lineage back to the dynasty of king David. This is to assure us (as Paul did) that Jesus is the promised Messiah. In this narrative, Mathew highlighted the significant and central role played by Mary and Joseph. They were God’s instruments for fulfilling His mission of salvation for us. This teaches us that God is active in our history and lives and comes to us through human agents.
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Finally, as we expect the coming of the Messiah, each of us must make himself available as a worthy instrument. We must be ready to cooperate with God as Mary and Joseph did so that the promises of God might be fulfilled through us. Also, we must allow ourselves to be instruments through which God could save humanity. So, in whatever capacity God calls us to participate in the economy of salvation, let us cooperate with him as Mary and Joseph did today.
Peace be with you!