Gospel reflections – Dec. 16th (Mt 1:18-24)

Fourth Sunday of Advent

In the opening verses of his letter to the Romans, Paul reminds the Romans that all those who place their faith in in the risen Christ are “called to be holy”.  What does holiness look like?

This Sunday’s readings offer three examples.  Holiness can manifest itself as the strength and courage to speak Truth to Power. That’s what Isaiah does in his words to King Ahaz in the first reading.

Holiness may be more about  surrendering than  doing – submitting one’s self totally and unconditionally to a divine purpose so as to be a more perfect instrument.  That’s what Paul means at the beginning of his letter to the Romans when he calls himself a “slave to Christ”.

Sometimes, holiness involves both doing and surrendering. That’s what happens to Joseph who plans on divorcing Mary when he  finds out she is pregnant until he is visited by an angel in a dream. The angel tells him not to be afraid to marry Mary because “it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.” 

The angel is short on details and explanations, however.  Joseph recieves the knowledge he needs – that all is happening in accord with God’s will – but certainly not all the information he would have wanted.  His call to holiness is to “do” – embrace Mary as his wife and provide for her and the child she is carrying – but also to surrender.  His life will not be taking the route he had expected.

Doing and Surrendering.   As wemake our final approach to Christmas here’s a question to consider:  What is one thing I need to do in order to celebrate this feast? What is one thing I must let go of or surrender to?

Perhaps the Serenity prayer would make for a good meditation this week.

Jim Philipps (3rd millennium pilgrim)

(To read full-length versions of my scriptural reflections, go to www.twentythirdpublications.com) My most recent book is entitled “Make Room for Scripture”.

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