Learn from St. Joseph

Fourth Sunday of Advent

Isaiah 7:10-14

The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky! But Ahaz answered, “I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!” Then Isaiah said: Listen, O house of David! Is it not enough for you to weary people, must you also weary my God? Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.

Romans 1:1-7

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus, called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures, the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord. Through him we have received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith, for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles, among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ; to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy. Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Matthew 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly. Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.” All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.” When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.

In this Sunday’s Gospel Reading, we hear the familiar story of how Joseph decided to dismiss Mary quietly when he found out that she was with child even though the engaged couple had had no conjugal relationship, how he heard the Angel’s words in a dream to take Mary as his wife, that the son Mary was bearing was from the Holy Spirit, and how he abandoned his own plan immediately and “did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife”. (Matthew 1:24)

What strikes me most in this gospel passage is how promptly and readily St. Joseph gave up his own plan to follow God’s. For myself, I am often very attached to my own plans, be they big or small. It is this attachment that makes me unable to hear God’s whispers in my ears and open my heart to God’s will in my life. Even in prayer, I have to remind myself not to insist on my own will but to seek God’s instead.

In the Second Reading, St. Paul gave us a clue how we can open our hearts to God’s will in our lives. He taught us “obedience of faith” (Romans 1:5, second reading). It truly opens up my mind! Yes we must obey God in faith – although at this moment in time, we cannot see His will clearly, we do not understand, yet we must not be afraid, we must take courage and follow what we feel are His directions even though it could mean taking a more difficult path in the eyes of the world.

Obedience of faith is not easy, but it will make us a better person, a better Catholic who can better live out the Gospels. In this last Sunday of Advent, let us make it our Christmas resolution to welcome Jesus into our hearts with obedience of faith so that we can be more like St. Joseph who was prompt and ready to abandon his own plan for the sake of God’s.

Posted: December 18, 2016

Shiu Lan

Shiu Lan is your Catholic neighbour with a simple faith and likes praying the Rosary. With a B.Sc from the University of Hong Kong, she worked in Information Technology and Project Management before working with joy at home.

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