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Contemplating today's Gospel

Today's Gospel + homily (in 300 words)

Weekdays of Advent: December 18th

1st Reading (Jer 23:5-8): Behold, the days are coming, says the Lord, when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David; as king he shall reign and govern wisely, he shall do what is just and right in the land. In his days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security. This is the name they give him: “The Lord our justice”. Therefore, the days will come, says the Lord, when they shall no longer say, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought the children of Israel out of the land of Egypt’; but rather, ‘As the Lord lives, who brought the descendants of the house of Israel up from the land of the north’— and from all the lands to which I banished them; they shall again live on their own land.
Responsorial Psalm: 71
R/. Justice shall flourish in his time, and fullness of peace for ever.
O God, with your judgment endow the king, and with your justice, the king’s son; he shall govern your people with justice and your afflicted ones with judgment.

For he shall rescue the poor when he cries out, and the afflicted when he has no one to help him. He shall have pity for the lowly and the poor; the lives of the poor he shall save.

Blessed be the Lord, the God of Israel, who alone does wondrous deeds. And blessed forever be his glorious name; may the whole earth be filled with his glory.
Versicle before the Gospel (---): Alleluia. O Leader of the House of Israel, giver of the Law to Moses on Sinai: come to rescue us with your mighty power! Alleluia.
Gospel text (Mt 1,18-24): This is how Jesus Christ was born. Mary his mother had been given to Joseph in marriage but before they lived together, she was found to be pregnant through the Holy Spirit. Then Joseph, her husband, made plans to divorce her in all secrecy. He was an upright man, and in no way did he want to discredit her.

While he was pondering over this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, «Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife. She has conceived by the Holy Spirit, and now she will bear a son. You shall call him “Jesus” for he will save his people from their sins». All this happened in order to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: «The virgin will conceive and bear a son, and he will be called Emmanuel which means: “God-with-us”». When Joseph woke up, he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do and he took his wife to his home.

«Joseph, descendant of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife»

Fr. Antoni CAROL i Hostench (Sant Cugat del Vallès, Barcelona, Spain)

Today, the liturgy of the Word invites us to think of the wonderful example St. Joseph gives us. He was extremely sensitive towards Mary, his betrothed.

There is no doubt that both were excellent people, in love with each other like no other couple. However, it is plain to see that the Almighty wanted their love to go through some very demanding circumstances.

The Pope saint John Paul II has written that «Christianity is a surprise from a God who has taken sides with his creature». As a matter of fact, He has taken the initiative: To come to this world He has not waited for us to deserve it. He proposes His initiative; He does not impose it upon us: It is as though God asked us for “permission”. To Mary He proposed —never imposed anything!— the vocation of being the Mother of God: «He, who had the power to create everything from nothing, had refused to rebuild what had been desecrated if Mary had not agreed to it» (Saint Anselm).

But God, not only is asking us for permission, He also wants us to take part in His plans, to make a heroic contribution. And so it was for Mary and Joseph. In fact the Christ-child needed parents. Even more so: He needed his parent's heroism, for they had to go to extremes to defend the life of the “little Redeemer”.

What is really beautiful is that Mary revealed only a few details of her childbearing: Such an important fact is reported in just two verses (cf. Lk 2:6-7). On the other hand, she was more explicit when speaking of Joseph's thoughtfulness towards her. The fact was that «before they lived together, she was found to be preg­nant through the Holy Spirit» (Mt 1:19), and in order not to risk discrediting her, he would have preferred to disappear discretely and to renounce her love (something that was socially unfavorable to him). Thus, before the law of charity had been proclaimed, Saint Joseph was already practicing it: Mary (and his loving attentions with her) was his law.

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