This weekend we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent. Joseph is the key figure in today’s Gospel passage. We are very familiar with the Annunciation story of Mary but sometimes we forget about the Annunciation story of Joseph. Every three years, on the Fourth Sunday of Advent we hear about the angel’s appearance to Joseph. Just when Joseph, who was a righteous man, had decided he was going to quietly divorce Mary, as she was with child, the angel of the Lord appears to him in a dream. The angel allays Joseph’s fears and explains that it is through the Holy Spirit that Mary has conceived a child. The angel helps Joseph understand God’s plan and that he needs Joseph to be part of that plan. The angel instructs him to name the child Jesus because he will save his people from their sins. At major points in Joseph’s life, God spoke to him through his dreams, and in all of those instances, he was asked to move in a new or different direction. Each time Joseph said “yes,” his actions made a significant difference in salvation history. Joseph’s “yes” – doing as the Lord commanded – was as important as Mary’s “yes.” Both were being faithful to God and open to doing his will. Sometimes God asks us to change direction in our own lives. When he does so, it may come as a surprise or it may even come in a dream. Let us listen attentively to God and the angels he sends into our lives this last week of Advent and respond with a whole-hearted “yes” to whatever God is asking of us.
On Saturday, December 17, the Church began praying the “O Antiphons.” They date back to the eighth century and are used at Morning and Evening Prayer and are also included in the Entrance and Communion Antiphons of daily Mass. Based on ancient biblical imagery, they are drawn from the messianic hopes of the Old Testament to proclaim the coming Christ as the fulfillment not only of Old Testament hopes, but present ones as well. If you would like to pray the “O Antiphons” each day between December 17 and 23, they are in today’s bulletin.
Blessings on your Advent Journey!
Sister Chris Gretka, CSJ