A Crazy Christmas Story
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Who do you trust?
Isaiah wanted Ahaz and Judah to be convinced of the blessings and abiding presence of God, even in difficult times. God also wanted that, culminating in Isaiah’s prophecy that a young woman would conceive a child named Immanuel, literally meaning that God is with us. And if God was with Ahaz (and Judah), he had no need to be afraid. But he would not listen to the prophesy of Isaiah, putting his trust in man (i.e., the help of Assyria) instead, and Judah suffered a crushing defeat.
The first reading is about trusting in God, or rather how not to do it. The how to comes about through the trust of Joseph who fulfils the prophesy Isaiah made so many years before.
Joseph’s faith was radical. Who would have believed his wife was pregnant through the Holy Spirit? It took a man of faith, of pure heart, and of incredible integrity to do what he did. He listened, and changed his mind to divorce Mary, opening himself up to the will and the promises of God by taking Mary his wife home.
- As God needed Joseph's faith to become the God who is with us (Immanuel), so God continues to require our faith to be a part of our lives.
To fathom the significance of this good news, we hear from Paul. The fulfillment of what God intended from the very beginning of creation was about to take place. According to St Irenaeus, this means that God always intended to become human. What does that tell you? Doesn’t that mean it is something pretty special about being human? Think about it. This means that the Father created us and the whole of creation so his Son could become like us, and live among us. Doesn’t that say that being human is better than being God? Are you thinking?
Jesus wasn’t diminished in his godliness. Nothing was detracted from his nature as Son of God, the second Person of the Godhead who pre-existed time itself. Because the Word became flesh, as St John puts it, we can share in Jesus’ divinity as he has shared out humanity. It says something so super special about being human – we are elevated, our nature is enhanced. We become gods and coheirs with Jesus in his new family always intended by God.
What a crazy story Christmas is! That’s one side. Easter—encountering the risen Christ, and our sharing in this new life—is the other. So, thinking back to the other readings (a) let’s give Ahaz’s attitude the flick (b) let us eagerly embrace the trusting attitude of St Joseph whose faith brought about a change of heart, and opened his life up to the will and the promises of God. Amen