4th Sunday of Advent, Cycle A


Is 7:10-14; Rom 1:1-7; Mt 1:18-24

Ahaz was king of Judah from 735-715 B.C., and Isaiah was then the major prophet alive. Judah was being attacked by the kings of Aram and of Israel and Ahaz was very afraid. Isaiah told him not to fear and the Lord will give him a sign of his protection. In the Hebrew, the word used almah simply meant a maiden or dalaga. When the Jews themselves translated the passage into Greek in the Septuagint Bible, they saw betulah and translated it into parthenos meaning virgin. In the Gospel Matthew used the Greek parthenos; that is why we have our translation “a virgin shall conceive and bear a son.”  Emmanuel is the spelling taken from the Greek, but the Hebrew would be Immanu-el, with us is God. We observe that this was written down some 700 years before it actually happened. For so many years has this mystery been planned by God; God prepared for this virgin birth of his Son centuries before and it is now made manifest to us (Col 1:26).

In the Mosaic Law, betrothal was like a marriage before coming together. If the woman is to get pregnant, it must only be by her betrothed husband or it will be considered adultery and the woman will be punished by stoning to death. Let us put ourselves in the shoes of Joseph, finding out that his betrothed is pregnant and surely not of him for he has not touched her. If he denounced her she would be stoned to death and he did not want that for he loved Mary so much. So he resolved to divorce her quietly. Mary for her part acted like all the saints of the Old Testament: “By waiting and by calm you shall be saved, in quiet and in trust your strength lies” (Is 30:15). This is God’s work and it shall be resolved by God. Thus God’s solution was to send his angel to Joseph in a dream to reveal his plan.

Joseph is the person who received this revelation from the heavenly messenger and that it is accomplished by the power of the Holy Spirit. Such a mystery can only be project of God. Joseph knew his prophecies, particularly Isaiah was famous among the Jews. Yet Joseph was anxious, perplexed for he did not fully understand. But when the angel spoke to him in a dream, he was clarified and obeyed in action not just in words.

Let us be obedient like Joseph. Let us make an act of faith that Mama Mary is Virgin before, during and after the birth of Jesus. Let us accept by faith that Joseph too remained a virgin all through his life caring and providing for and protecting Jesus and Mary. He is the model for all God fearing husbands and all God fearing fathers of family. Joseph respected, honored and loved Mary not just as a woman but as the bearer of the Savior, the Son of God; she was like the Ark of the Covenant in the Old Testament. He was almost venerating her as he would the Ark of the Covenant. Let us see Joseph and Mary united by the love for the Baby Son of God in Mary’s womb, ever conscious of God’s presence between them.Seeing Mary and Joseph in this text of Scripture, we contemplate how Mary and Joseph surely had their personal plans for their marriage. And here comes God with his own plan very different from our own. Mary had the angel announce to her God’s plan; but what about Joseph? He was surely perplexed when he found Mary pregnant though he had not touched her. Contemplate his anxiety especially for the safety of Mary. Would you have the faith to ask God to explain things or would you outright doubt him? Would you have Is. 30:15 in mind: “by waiting and by calm”? This is our chance to test our trust in God.

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Fray Dunstan Huberto Decena, OAR

Fray Hubert Dunstan Decena, OAR

Priest/Religious/Bible Professor of the Order of Augustinian Recollects in the Province of St. Ezekiel Moreno.