We are only a few days away from Christmas. On this fourth Sunday of Advent we are given Scripture readings which challenge us in how we see Advent and Christmas. Below are a couple of reflections which help us to take another look at this season we celebrate. The first is from Sr. Mary McGlone.
Matthew begins Jesus’ story by acknowledging the scandal: Mary was found to be with child. Matthew adds “through the Holy Spirit” as a note to the reader; Joseph would first confront the raw fact of the pregnancy and then receive the offer to interpret it in faith.
As a Gospel reading for the last Sunday in Advent, this invites us to join with Joseph in his risky adventure of faith. Perhaps the essence of Matthew’s narrative is the angel’s greeting: “Do not be afraid.” Of what should he not be afraid? Of breaking the law, which demanded punishment of a pregnancy outside of marriage. Of taking Mary and, of course, her unborn child into his home, and therefore into the rest of his life. Of believing the unbelievable and walking confidently into the unknown. But then again, wasn’t that exactly what God had done from the beginning of creation? Hadn’t God risked divine dignity through unfailing love of humanity? Being reminded of the dreams God had inspired in the people, Joseph did what only a man of faith would choose to do. He opened his life to Emmanuel. We receive the same invitation. (Celebration)
How do we open our lives to Emmanuel? How does faith make a difference in the choices we make in life?
The second reflection comes from Dietrich Bonhoeffer on the birth of Jesus:
If we wish to take part in this Advent and Christmas event,
then we cannot simply be bystanders or onlookers,
as if we were at the theater,
enjoying all the cheerful images.
No, we ourselves are swept up into the action there,
into this conversion of all things.
We have to play our part too on this stage.
For the spectator
is already an actor.
He cannot withdraw.
…we cannot approach his manger
as if it were the cradle of any other child.
Those who wish to come to this manger
find that something is
happening within them.
Do we dare to approach the manger when we know it can change us?
I look forward to celebrating Christmas with you and all of our guests.