Fourth Sunday of Advent
Readings (click here for the Sunday readings)
Gospel: Lk 1:26-38
The angel Gabriel was sent from God
to a town of Galilee called Nazareth,
to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,
of the house of David,
and the virgin’s name was Mary.
And coming to her, he said,
“Hail, full of grace! The Lord is with you.”
But she was greatly troubled at what was said
and pondered what sort of greeting this might be.
Then the angel said to her,
“Do not be afraid, Mary,
for you have found favor with God.
“Behold, you will conceive in your womb and bear a son,
and you shall name him Jesus.
He will be great and will be called Son of the Most High,
and the Lord God will give him the throne of David his father,
and he will rule over the house of Jacob forever,
and of his kingdom there will be no end.”
But Mary said to the angel,
“How can this be,
since I have no relations with a man?”
And the angel said to her in reply,
“The Holy Spirit will come upon you,
and the power of the Most High will overshadow you.
Therefore the child to be born
will be called holy, the Son of God.
And behold, Elizabeth, your relative,
has also conceived a son in her old age,
and this is the sixth month for her who was called barren;
for nothing will be impossible for God.”
Mary said, “Behold, I am the handmaid of the Lord.
May it be done to me according to your word.”
Then the angel departed from her.
The Gospel of the Lord.
R. Praise to you Lord Jesus Christ.
A Vocations Angle
This Advent I have been journeying with St. Joseph in a journal entitled, “Rejoice: Advent Meditations with Joseph” by Fr. Mark Toups. This journal is an Advent prayer resource with daily meditations that invite us to experience the first Advent with Joseph and Mary, as they await the birth of their son, Jesus, the Savior of the world. I found the reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent to be particularly insightful as we prepare our hearts for Christmas. I have included Fr. Toups’ reflection in its entirety below. Are we courageous enough to enter into the silence of Christmas? Do we really want our lives to change, forever?
“How many of us have grown desensitized to the reality of Christmas? I have. Because I have become so familiar with the trees, lights, and decorations, it has become too easy for me to wrap up December 25 and quickly go back to the way life was on December 24. Christmas can too easily feel like a day rather than Person. Days come and go. Days do not change our lives; people change our lives. I cannot treat a person like I treat a Christmas tree. When I am entrusted with a real Person on December 25, I wake up on December 26 and realize: “This Person is still here. He isn’t gong anywhere. He needs me. He now requires that I change my life. This Person is not like a present. He is not going away.
As Joseph slowly inched into the rising foothills of Bethlehem, he became evermore quiet. Mary, as she knew that she was mere hours away from giving birth to the Savior of the world, she too became more contemplative. The steps ascending to Bethlehem were quiet, for both Mary and Joseph had a lot on their minds. There was no going back. Once Mary gave birth to the Christ child, their lives would be changed forever. Mary knew this, and Joseph knew this as well. As he walked forward, his mind beheld the deepening realization that life would never be the same again.
Enter into the scene now, as if it were the present moment. Imagine Mary holding her pregnant womb and swaying rhythmically on the donkey. Imagine Joseph, walking quietly before them. Listen to the quiet; the scene is so very quiet. Now, imagine, you are walking next to Joseph. You can feel the gait of his stride; you can hear the intake of his breathing. All of a sudden, he stops walking, as if his mind has just realized something utterly life-changing. He is suspended in insight. He stands still, so very still. Slowly, ever so slowly, he turns to Mary. Their eyes meet once again. She smiles. He gazes. Then, almost as if they finish each other’s thoughts, they whisper together: ‘We can never go back to the way it was.’”
For your prayer
Find some time today to be alone. Find a quiet space. Slow down. Settle your heart. Close your eyes and ask the Holy Spirit to inspire your imagination and guide you as you pray. Imagine Joseph stunned in silence. Imagine his pausing, standing still. Imagine his glancing towards Mary and realizing that their life will never be the same. Visualize the scene. Be in the scene. Be with Joseph as if it is happening now, in the present moment.
Have a blessed conclusion of Advent and a Merry Christmas!
Sincerely yours in Christ,
Fr. Jeff Eirvin
PS: For more information on the Rejoice! journal go to www.rejoiceprogram.com
Practical parish resources for the Fourth Sunday of Advent:
Prayer of the Faithful
For a deeper trust and openness to the Holy Spirit in people discerning a call to serve Christ as a priest, deacon or in the consecrated life, we pray to the Lord.
“Make known to all nations to bring about the obedience of faith.” Is Christ calling you to let Him manifest His love in you as a priest or consecrated religious? Contact the Vocation Office at (503) 233-8368 or email: firstname.lastname@example.org
For Prayer of the Faithful and Bulletin Blurbs in Spanish go to Resources.