Today's Scriptural Meditation Readings:
December 23, A.D. 2007
Scripture from today's Liturgy of the Word:
Psalm 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
A reflection on today's Scripture:
Caught between a rock and a hard place!
Remember the last time you were caught "between a rock and a hard place," not knowing where to turn for advice and hoping that somehow an angel from heaven would solve your dilemma? I can think of more than one!
Today's readings on this last Sunday of Advent describe how God very dramatically provides signs of His loving intervention in human history when there seemed no way out. In the first reading, God directly invites King Ahaz to ask for a sign that God would protect the southern kingdom of Judah from enemies that threatened to destroy it.
Now, a wise leader would eagerly grasp at the opportunity. Not Ahaz, who in his pride had already decided on his own political solution! Isaiah decides to give him God's sign anyway, saying "the virgin shall conceive a child and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel." Ahaz was not interested in God's help. He foolishly trusted his own wisdom. As a result, the whole nation was defeated and sent into exile in Babylon.
The Gospel tells us of another man faced with a grave dilemma. Joseph, already bound by a solemn betrothal ceremony to take Mary as his wife, discovers to his dismay that she is with child. He can only suppose that she has been unfaithful to him, and is now subject to very severe laws that could result in her death if he exposes her. He takes the compassionate way out. He will divorce her quietly, exposing himself, not her, to shame.
God intervenes through a dream in which an angel tells him the whole story. The angel tells Joseph not to be afraid to take Mary as his wife, for her child has God Himself as the Father! With incredible trust and humility, Joseph obediently agrees to the plan. What a contrast between this just man and crafty Ahaz.
How God rewards those who abandon their own plans and accept His plans for their lives! It's even more incredible that Jesus the God-man, in turn, entrusted His life to Joseph and Mary! No wonder a world holds its breath for His birth at Christmas.
Again, God entrusts the success of His plans this year to those who can love enough and sacrifice their plans for His own. What will we make of this Christmas? For that's what Christmas is meant to do-destroy our fear and make us God-bearers.
Advent has been all about waiting. And now we know what the waiting was for. To live our lives, content in the midst of our frustration with war and corruption, as well as our own personal failures. For God is with us, making sense of all the suffering, all the misery, helping us believe that we are in a much larger Advent, waiting for Love to be born for the last time when all those prophecies we heard read in the last few weeks are brought to fulfillment.
It's a question of that mysterious presence in our hearts that we call faith and hope. If we can only say a simple, unqualified "yes" as Mary and Joseph did, some amazing things could happen in our lives.
- Msgr. Paul Whitmore |
December 23, 2007
The Fourth Sunday of Advent
Lives of the saints:
Full Scripture text from today's Liturgy of the Word:
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