The Pastor’s Thoughts — 4th Sunday of Advent

December 13, 2022 | By Bishop Roy E. Campbell, Jr.

“Jesus will be born of Mary, the betrothed of Joseph, a son of David.”

Let’s think back some 2,000 years ago, about marriage and fidelity. Joseph was going to seek a divorce from his betrothed, Mary. In their time, to be betrothed was to be married; however, a wife had not yet come to live in her husband’s house. Joseph found Mary to “be with child” and the child was not his. However, unlike the couples on the once popular TV show, Divorce Court, Joseph wanted to end his marriage quietly, not in the “public’s eye.”

Joseph may have thought that Mary had been “seduced” by another man. In any case the Jewish law was clear, in the “public’s eye,” a woman guilty of infidelity must be “stoned to death.” Joseph did not want Mary harmed. He wanted to divorce her on his own, which a man could do, since he tried to live by Jewish law. However, God Himself intervened, sending His angel in a dream, to tell Joseph to take Mary into his house. It was necessary for Joseph to take Mary into his home to fulfill Isaiah’s prophesy, “… a shoot shall sprout from the stump of Jesse, and from his roots a bud shall blossom.”

Jesse was King David’s father and God promised David that his kingdom would last forever. “And when your time comes and you rest with your ancestors, I will raise up your heir after you, sprung from your loins, and I will make his kingdom firm.” Joseph was a descendant of David and by taking Mary into his home and raising Jesus as his own son made Jesus a descendant of David. What God promised David in the Old Testament, was fulfilled in Jesus in the home of Joseph.

Joseph had free will and decided to say YES to God. There is no doctrine about his immaculate conception or sinlessness. Yet, he responded with generosity. He responded with faith. He responded out of love. He listened to this message from God in a dream. He rose above his fear. He rose above his confusion. He did not know how the story was going to end other than to know that this child was going to save his people from their sins. The words, “HE DID AS THE ANGEL OF THE LORD COMMANDED,” should be inspirational to all of us. They are simple words, yet behind them stand a man who should inspire us to respond generously to every prompting of the Holy Spirit in us, to do as the Lord commands.

Isn’t it marvelous that God sent His Son as Savior to us, not simply to live among us but to become one of us in our very nature? That astounding miracle happens every time we celebrate Mass, and we receive Jesus in our own humanity, when we receive the Eucharist. God becomes one with our body and blood, joined with His Body and Blood. Because of the Incarnation, God becomes one with us. Every Mass is another Christmas.

In every Mass, Jesus gives Himself to us out of love. Out of love, Joseph was called to give himself to Jesus and Mary, the mother of God. Out of love, we are called to give ourselves to Jesus and to each other. This is the true spirit of Christmas! The spirit of giving of ourselves, out of love! It is a spirit we should live every day of our lives!

– Bishop Roy Campbell

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