Today has give me an opportunity to be with God’s people in several different parishes. Beginning at St. Therese for 8:30 Mass, I then celebrated 10:00 Mass at Immaculate Conception.
From there, I had a tremendously unique experience to spend some time with our Ukrainian Greek Catholic family at Our Lady of Zarvancia. Today they celebrate the Feast of St. Nicholas. It was touching to share some prayer, food and a few thoughts of support with them. And now, I’m off to join members of our Black Catholic Advisory Circle as they prepare for the Black Catholic Congress this summer.
On This Fourth Sunday of Advent, Scripture gives us three individuals to learn how God speaks to us and how we are called to respond in faith.
From the Prophet Isaiah we hear how the Lord spoke to Ahaz instructing him to ask for a sign; ‘let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!’ In similar fashion, God stands ready to provide for us beyond our imagination, perhaps even beyond what we might even dare to ask.
Ahaz did not rise to the invitation. Rather, he demonstrated a lack of confidence in God’s power, couching his response safely: “I will not tempt the Lord!”
The Prophet Isaiah chided Ahaz: “Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God?”
God instead offers the sign: “the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.”
Matthew’s Gospel holds out for our consideration the person of Joseph. Imagine how disheartened, even broken hearted he must have been to learn that his betrothed, Mary, was with child. Because of his integrity he decided to silently dismiss Mary. But God had another plan, for Joseph, Mary, and for all of us.
This time, God spoke to Joseph by means of a dream, revealing God’s plan to him. Accordingly, as a righteous and faith-filled man, Joseph dared to put his trust in God’s unimaginable greatness, and took Mary into his home.
In these final days of Advent, we are preparing for the birth of Jesus. Are we willing to allow God’s plan to surprise us? I think of the question Jesus posed in Luke’s Gospel: “When the Son of Man comes, will he find faith on earth?” (18:8) Will we be able to “Let the Lord enter” as the Psalmist says, into our life and world? Do we really believe the Lord can do great things for us, or to believe what the Angel Gabriel to Mary at the Annunciation?: “for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Let us open all the realities of our life to the Mystery and Power of God. Let us open our lives and all the Lord to enter, for He comes with great power and love.
St. Paul’s life was completely changed due to his encounter with the Risen Christ. From that moment, Paul’s entire life as a witness to the power of the Risen Jesus. This is the truth of Christianity and what the Risen Christ seeks to do for each and everyone of us still today.
Because of the Incarnation – the Birth of Christ – God now speaks to us in person through the Crucified and Risen Christ. The Mystery of God took flesh in Jesus Christ. Our life as Christians, as Catholics is to make this announcement to the world because we, as St. Paul, as St. Joseph, have come to find our fullness in Christ, and we desire to lead others to the same Christ and fullness of life!