Homily Fourth Sunday of Advent Year A Emmanuel

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Homily Fourth Sunday of Advent Year A

Reading 1: The Kingdom of Judea was being attacked by a foreign nation. The King and all the people were afraid. He is contemplating aligning himself with another king to defend Jerusalem.

God sends the prophet Isaiah to the king to tell him not to be afraid but put his trust in God who will defend him and defeat the enemy’s army without the king having to do anything. Ahaz was not convinced, even though externally he says he doesn’t want to put God to the test. So Isaiah told him to ask for a sign. But the king was afraid to. But Isaiah said the Lord will give you a sign: the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, who will be named Emmanuel, meaning God is with you.

As promised, God delivered his people from their attackers. The initial fulfillment was that the future king Hezekiah was conceived at this time and his mother was unmarried. The fuller meaning was yet to be fulfilled. As we have heard in the Gospel, it is the prophecy that God made to David concerning a future king from his line and that his throne will be everlasting. Jesus is the promised Messiah, the Emmanuel. God was with the people of the Old Covenant and with the coming of Jesus, our Savior, is with us today. He is a God who is with us in the present moment.

Gospel: As Ahaz was disturbed by the attack upon his nation, so Joseph was disturbed by the realization that Mary, his betrothed was with child, but not his. As a righteous man, he could not condone or cover up what he thought was infidelity. At the same time, because he loved Mary and wanted to protect her from the scorn and shame of what people would say, he chose to divorce her by a letter. This was allowed by the Law without stating the reason.

But God had another plan to protect Mary, who was still a virgin and had conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit the Savior of the world.

In a dream an angel appears to Joseph and reveals the true identity and mission of the child. Matthew then connects this revelation to Joseph with the prophecy of Isaiah to Ahaz. “A Virgin shall conceive and the child shall be known as Emmanuel.”

Joseph believed in the message of the angel in his dream. In contrast to Ahaz, Joseph was not afraid to do what the Lord told him. He loved God and he loved Mary. He wanted to do what was right and just in the sight of God.  Joseph submitted to God’s plan for him: to protect Mary and the child, to provide for her and the child, to trust in God, laying down his plans and embracing God’s plans. Joseph’s life would not be easy. He would have to make many sacrifices.

Reading 2: Ahaz was called to stand firm in faith, trusting his life and that of the people to God. Paul emphasized the mystery of the person of Jesus, Son of God in power and descendant of David in the flesh. One person but two natures: Divine and human. He also points to the prophets of old by proclaiming the Good News of God’s love in the person, life and deeds of Jesus.

Paul was called to be an apostle, one who belonged to Jesus and is sent out to proclaim the same Good News to others. We too the beloved of God by birth and by rebirth in baptism. We too belong to Christ because he redeemed from eternal alienation from God through his death and resurrection and he immersed me in the waters of baptism. We too are sent out to witness to others. We witness our faith in Jesus as our Lord and Savior. We witness by showing sincere love to others, truly wishing them a blessed Christmas.

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