IV SUNDAY OF ADVENT
isaiah 7:10-14; romans 1:1-7; matthew 1:18-24
elisabeth elliot (who worked for several years with the huorani in ecuador) tells of two adventurers who came to see her. they were loaded with equipment for their adventure in the andes. they sought no advice, just a few phrases to converse with the indians!
she writes: «sometimes we come to GOD as the two adventurers came to me—confident and, we think, well-informed and well-equipped. we know what we need… a yes or no answer to a simple question. or perhaps a road sign. something quick and easy to point the way. but has it occurred to us that with all our stuff, something is missing? what we ought to have is the guide himself.»
i guess joseph would identify with elliot’s experience!
when joseph discovered that mary was pregnant, as an observant jew, he would need to denounce mary as law/custom required. but «since he was a righteous man, and unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.» he decided to go beyond law/custom; he let justice and compassion guide his decision.
but GOD intervened and made clear to him that although the child in mary’s womb was not his (and of the holy spirit), he would have to recognize it as his own. joseph «did as the angel of the LORD had commanded him». he goes even beyond justice and compassion; he allows GOD to guide him.
in doing so, he cooperated with GOD. this human listening-obedience-cooperation with GOD’s action results in the birth of jesus (mary does the same. paul, in the second reading, is another example of this divine-human dynamic: he, too, listened to GOD and facilitated the birth of jesus in the new churches).
in moments of dilemma, do i rely on my own strength to arrive at decisions and do i seek merely GOD’s approval? or do i listen to his voice, obey his will and cooperate with his plan for me?
in moments of difficulty, do i discreetly extricate myself from problems? or do i see myself involved in a work of the holy spirit?
GOD’s coming in our world still depends on «josephs» and «marys»—men and women of humility and docility. may you and i listen-obey-cooperate, and make christmas still happen!