This Fourth Sunday of Advent reminds us that the ways of God are breathtaking, and go way beyond our human wisdom. The first reading from the Prophet Isaiah (7:10-14) demonstrates how King Ahaz is called to trust God’s fidelity and power in the face of superior invading armies. The Prophet tells the king to ask for a sign as a verification that God will prevail in this approaching threat. But, King Ahaz proves to be weak in faith.
The Gospel this Sunday (Matthew 1:18-24) tells the story of the events leading up to the birth of Jesus. Joseph, espoused to Mary, discovers that she is with child, and decides to quietly send her away. In this moment, the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream to reveal the divine plan. Joseph is told to take Mary as his wife, and that the child has been conceived by the power of the Holy Spirit, and he will take away the sins of the people.
This news had to be even more disturbing than the events faced by King Ahaz. This moment called for even greater faith in the workings of God, that seemed to contradict all reality. And yet, Joseph being a man of faith, accepted this divine plan, and surrendered his own plans to fulfill what God requests.
Advent calls each of us to the realization that we too are called to look beyond the wisdom of this world to discover the divine plan. Advent is an invitation to deeper faith and greater holiness, which are necessary for embracing the divine plan in each of our lives. Faith also tells us that when we give our assent to allow God’s plan to be fulfilled in our life, it leads us beyond our self – to be engaged with the divine plan – to be engaged with others – which is all about advancing the Kingdom of God.
Notice, in the case of St. Joseph, he had to let go of his own plans and expectations when faced with the divine plan of God. He had to let go of fear. His own dreams were far surpassed by the dream of God. So, too for us. The divine will, though specifically ‘personal’ was far greater than Joseph, or even Mary.
The divine plan of God is essentially the same today. We live in a world today that tells us to rely upon our own strength – to trust only in what is scientifically verifiable. Much like the time of Christ, when people expected the Messiah to be more of a political king, there seems today to be much hope placed in worldly and political powers, diminishing the realm of faith and religion. The faith of Joseph and Mary allowed the promise of God to be fulfilled according to the timeline and power of God. The faith of Joseph and Mary allowed for the in-breaking of the Kingdom of God, that far surpasses any worldly kingdom. The same is asked of us today.
Let us open our hearts to the power of God. Let us open our hearts to the Divine Plan of God. Let us open our hearts to the Kingdom of God. Let us open our hearts to the King of Glory!
May our dream be the fulfillment of God’s dream for us.