Homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A
Theme: Grace to coperate with God
By: Fr. Cyril Unachukwu CCE
Homily for Sunday December 22 2019
As we gradually approach the Solemn Feast of the Nativity of our Lord, the Church, guiding us through towards the end of our Advent preparation, in the readings draws our attention to how it all happened over two thousand years ago with Mary; and Joseph’s important role in the whole scenario and of course to the mystery of the Incarnate Word in the womb of the Holy Virgin, not by man but by the power of the Holy Spirit. May we be sanctified by the power of the same Spirit so as to be made worthy to receive the merits of the mysteries we are about to celebrate; Amen.
Our history with God is a journey of many stages, starting from creation, through the fall of Adam and Eve to the many interventions God gratuitously and graciously made to bring us into renewed communion with Him through the patriarchs and prophets and kings and many wise and strong men and women, kings and queens and leaders, to the fullness of time when He sent us His only begotten Son Jesus Christ to be the fount of His Everlasting Covenant with us (Gal 4:4). This is the event we are about to commemorate. God’s decisive intervention in human history! Already many centuries before this peculiar and particular event, many oracles and prophets foretold His coming. The First Reading (Is 7:10-14) is one of such most important prophecies about His birth revealing an important identity of the Man of the feast to come; “the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel, a name which means _God is with us._ ” In Christ, God is concretely and permanently and decisively with us. He is closest to us in a palpable way and in Him we see the fullness of God’s glory. The mystery of His being with us as both God and man is the Good News that awaits us in few days to come; “this news is about the Son of God who, according to the human nature he took was a descendant of David: it is about Jesus Christ our Lord who, in the order of the spirit, the spirit of holiness that was in Him, was proclaimed Son of God in all His power through His resurrection from the dead” (Romans 1:1-7). Assent to this Mystery of a Person is done by a leap of faith seen clearly in the Holy Virgin’s reply to the angel Gabriel “let it be done to me according to your word” (Lk 1:38) and in the cooperation of the Chaste Joseph, husband of Mary.
The scene of the unveiling of this mysterious moment is replete with many personalities that played different roles, all of which contributed to bring to fruition the Divine Plan. One of such personalities is presented in a special in the Gospel Reading of today (Mt 1:18-24). The greatness of all the saints is always in their ability to leave whatever they could have decided to be in order to follow and become that which God wanted of them. This was the story of Joseph, the husband of the Blessed Virgin Mary. He gave in to God’s design and sacrificed all of his life’s dreams to fulfil God’s design. God honoured him immensely by the singular privilege of being the foster father of His only begotten Son, incarnate in the womb of the holy Virgin. Joseph leaves us perennially with a myriad of lessons, especially in our times when self realisation and self positioning disconnected from God are priced at all costs with so much attention on what we like and what we want and how we would like things to go. The holy and just Joseph brings us to think about what God wants for us; how he wants us to live; the future and purpose He has in store for us. It would be very insensitive to think that Joseph never had his plans. He actually did! What distinguished Saint Joseph was his ability to resign all of his plans and purposes and wishes and prospects for God’s singular purpose; for “when Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.” This recession of the self in honour of God’s plan brought Joseph the greatest honour of his life and singled him out for all ages to come. He demonstrated that he was truly a just man who obeys the dictates of the Lord. As we prepare to celebrate the Feast of Christmas, may we never forget the fact that the actual scene of the birth of Jesus Christ was formed by an array of persons who sacrificed all of their life’s dreams to cooperate with God’s plan. Joseph is an eminent member of this class of doers of God’s will and God wants us to imitate their renowned virtues. This is part of the aims of the Advent Season, to grace us to form ourselves to be open to and create space for God. Only then can we truly sing with the Psalmist, “let the Lord enter! He is the King of glory.”
May God Whose Son Jesus Christ came to us in our form by the power of the Holy Spirit in the womb of the Holy Virgin and spouse of Joseph, embellish us with the grace to respond and correspond and cooperate with His holy will and plans always; Amen. Happy Sunday;
Fr Cyril CCE