4th Sunday of Advent (A)

December 18, 2022

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Many people think of Joseph as advanced in age and consider him Mary’s guardian more than her husband, but their “communion of virginal love” was a true marriage, writes Father Hawkswell. (Wikipedia)

Altier Bloom Chama Chua Cummins Ekpunobi Fallon
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PFL Canada Pellegrino Schuster Senior Smiga     

Bishop Robert Barron WORD ON FIRE PODCASTS and featured videos of priests delivering their Sunday Homilies for the 4th Sunday of Advent (A)

FR. VINCENT HAWKSWELL

Joseph was Truly a Father to Jesus

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2022

Jesus is “Son of God” by the Holy Spirit, but “Son of David” by Joseph.

Homilies Hawkswell

For many centuries, God taught his people to look forward to salvation. Through the prophets, he revealed that the Saviour, God the Son, would be “of the House of David.” He fulfilled these prophecies when Mary, “a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph,” consented to become his Son’s mother.

“Betrothed” did not mean what “engaged” means to us. Betrothal was marriage in every legal and religious sense; only divorce, permitted by Moses, could dissolve it. However, a betrothed couple lived apart until after the formal home-taking, months or even years later.

The angel Gabriel explained that not even Joseph would be involved in Mary’s pregnancy. “The Holy Spirit will come upon you, and the power of the Most High will overshadow you,” he said; “hence, the holy Offspring to be born will be called Son of God.”

HOMILY ARCHIVE

FR. GEORGE SMIGA

Joseph’s Shame

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2013

We need not be controlled by what people think.

Homilies Smiga

Today’s gospel is about shame: Joseph’s shame and ours as well. Shame results from doing something wrong or displeasing to others, or by being associated with someone who does something wrong or displeases others. Joseph’s shame was of the second variety. He did nothing wrong. But his espoused wife, Mary, was found with child. Now, Jewish culture took engagement very seriously. Therefore, there was no doubt in Joseph’s mind that the vows he had exchanged with Mary had been broken by her pregnancy. He had the right to expose her publicly and, in the patriarchal culture in which they lived, his word that he was not the father would not have been questioned. So there was every inclination for Joseph to distance himself from Mary’s shame, to ignore or reject her because of her mistake.

But that is not what Joseph did. Instead, he took Mary as his wife and accepted her child as part of his household. Now why would Joseph do this? The easy answer is that he received a message from an angel. But that only takes us so far. It is important to note that Joseph’s angel was very different from the angel that appeared to Mary. The text tells us that Joseph’s angel appeared to him in a dream. Dreams are more elusive than daytime visitations. Dreams need to be tested once you awake. Perhaps, then, the best way to understand Joseph’s angel was that it was a divine suggestion. The suggestion which entered Joseph’s heart might have run like this: “What would happen if I married Mary anyway? What would happen if I took her as my wife even though I am not the father of her child?”

More Homilies from Fr. Smiga

  • Emmanuel — December 18, 2004
  • From Disaster to Salvation — December 23, 2007
  • Another Christmas Story— December 19. 2010
  • Let Go in Love — December 18, 2016
  • A Compassionate Christmas — December 22, 2019

HOMILY ARCHIVE

FR. AUSTIN FLEMING

Do Not Be Afraid

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2016

In everything, and in all things,  (good and bad, sad and happy, joyful and painful) in all things: God Is with you: EMMANUEL.

Homilies Concord PastorNone of us is asked to face what Joseph faced. But all of us, like Joseph, face times in our lives when God has allowed things to happen, or has allowed things to fail to happen, that would intimately touch, shape and turn our lives around, things that would stand us on our head, in ways we never dreamed and sometimes in ways we had hoped and prayed would never happen.

There is perhaps no time in the year more than Christmas when we are so keenly aware of dreams that have happily come true and dreams that have sadly failed or slipped from our grasp. The song may tell us we dream of a white Christmas but our hearts tell a different story. Our hearts tell the story of hopes and disappointments, of joys and sorrows, of blessings and losses. And often this season finds us to be, just like Joseph: anxious, afraid, embarrassed, worried, disappointed or sad.

RECENT HOMILIES

FR. ANTHONY EKPUNOBI, C.M.

A Revelation of the Mystery of Incarnation

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2019

The nativity is a mystery beyond human comprehension.

Homilies

Today’s gospel is a revelation of the mystery of incarnation. The readings point to the fact that the nativity is a mystery beyond human comprehension. The prophesy – the virgin shall conceive and bear a son – was given by the Prophet Isaiah. But today the readings emphasize the difficulty in comprehension even for the righteous. Joseph and Mary, though righteous in the sight of God, were unable to comprehend the mystery of ‘conception by the Holy Spirit’. It took the intervention of the angel of the Lord for Joseph to take Mary home as his wife.

St. Paul describes this mystery as ‘… descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead…’ According to Paul, this mystery calls us to the obedience of faith. This is the exact attitude of Joseph when he took Mary in as his wife.

The obedience of faith is what will connect us to EMMANUEL, the God that is with us!

RECENT HOMILIES

MSGR. JOSEPH PELLEGRINO

Don’t Just Look; Don’t Just See; But Behold!

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2022

There is a temptation for all of us to act like Ahaz.

Homilies

When the prophet Isaiah came to Ahaz [in the first reading] and told him to stay at peace and trust in God, Ahaz balked at this. He had his own plan. So Isaiah told him, “If you want proof that my message is from God, ask for a sign, and God will provide it.” Ahaz might have appeared to be holy and pious when he said, “I will not tempt God,” but actually what he was saying is that he did not want anyone telling him what choices to make. He certainly was not going to allow some prophet to determine his policies. He did not want to behold.

There is a temptation that we all have to react as Ahaz reacted when confronted with the action of God in our lives. We have a temptation that we rather trust in our own ability to find happiness than be exposed to God and be forced to reject the pseudo joy of the world. There is a temptation we all have not to behold. A number of years ago a young man told me that he had avoided Church because he knew that if he started taking his faith seriously, he would have to change his life. He said it took him years to realize that his immoral lifestyle did not bring him happiness. When he finally took the step to return to the Lord, everything changed. Others told him that he wasn’t the same guy. He agreed. “That’s right,” he said, “I’m happy now.” Perhaps all of us to some degree or other have avoided God. Perhaps there are times that we think that embracing God in our lives would cost too much. And, consequently, we ended up avoiding happiness. There is a temptation for all of us to act like Ahaz.

HOMILY ARCHIVE

FR. ROBERT ALTIER

The Obedience of Faith

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2019

Knowing the holiness of our Blessed Lady, there is no real possibility for us to think St. Joseph may have thought our Lady had been unfaithful.  

Homilies

The faith and obedience of St. Joseph provide a great example to all of us.  He acts immediately upon the direction of the Angel and, by Jewish law, at the moment our Lady crossed the threshold of St. Joseph’s home, the Child in her womb was legally became St. Joseph’s child.  Our Lord now has legal standing not only as the son of Joseph, but also as a son of David.  Both of Jesus’ parents were from the tribe of Judah and both were descended from King David.  Thus, the promise God made to David is also fulfilled and Jesus is now King forever.

These mysteries are wonderful, indeed, as St. Paul mentions in the second reading, the mystery of the Incarnation leads to the mystery of the death and resurrection of our Lord.   Jesus is God from all eternity, He is God at the moment of the Incarnation, but the “proof” for St. Paul is in Jesus’ resurrection from the dead in which he says Jesus is “established as the Son of God in power…”  Jesus did not become the Son of God, because He was so from all eternity, but He demonstrated His divinity by destroying death and rising to new life.

HOMILY ARCHIVE

FR. MICHAEL CHUA

A Man of Honor

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2019

Saint Joseph sacrifices himself, his pain, indignation, and shame, rather than cast it off onto Mary. 

Homilies

Saint Joseph truly is the silent figure of the New Testament. There are no direct quotes of Saint Joseph recorded in the Bible. In a way, the silence of Saint Joseph teaches us a fundamental attitude to enter into deep prayer: silence. If we are constantly bombarded by noises then it is impossible to hear the Word of God, because the Holy Spirit speaks to us in the gentle breeze of silence. Also the silence of Saint Joseph teaches us that we must prove our authenticity not only by words, but also by our actions. What he did in his life for God speaks volumes. To appreciate him and his role in salvation, we need to examine today’s gospel passage.

RECENT HOMILIES

PRIESTS FOR LIFE - CANADA

4th Sunday of Advent

Ahaz, the King of Judah, “wearied” God by ignoring the prophets, worshiping idols, giving himself over to a life of wickedness and even sacrificing his own son. He did not want to ask God for a sign because “he was afraid of being forced to relinquish his evil ways” (St. Jerome).

St. Joseph, to whom Our Lady was betrothed, was a righteous man of sterling moral character, committed to living the Law of God in humility. He treats Mary with the utmost charity and reverence by being docile to the angel and setting aside his fears that would lead him away from his vocation as the legal father of the Messiah.

Which kind of father and husband do you wish to be? Whom would you rather marry? Catholic men must protect both their wives and children, no matter the cost.

PRO-LIFE INTERCESSION

That following St. Joseph’s example, all fathers may be strengthened in love for their wives and for their children, born and unborn, we pray to the Lord…


Vatican dismisses Father Frank Pavone from priesthood

Father Frank Pavone, a well-known pro-life activist and national director of the organization Priests for Life, has been dismissed from the clerical state for “blasphemous communications on social media” and “persistent disobedience of the lawful instructions of his diocesan bishop…”  READ MORE
FR. EVANS CHAMA, M.AFR

Emmanuel – When Your life Seems Blocked

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2016

Pray for the grace that we may be more trusting, and thus, join Joseph and Mary in saying, sincerely, “amen” to God.

We have seen the difference between Ahaz and Joseph. Certainly, we’d like to be like Joseph. Yes, by reaching this 4th Sunday of Advent it means we too have been watching in faith. Nevertheless, even with our good will, there are situations in life that may have just overpowered us, and despite ourselves, we got discouraged, we doubted and we couldn’t just find it in us to say “amen” to God. We resorted to our own human alternatives. But God never leaves us. That’s why even at the end of Advent, no matter how unprepared we may feel today, he still comes to assure us. We still have chance.

The one we are awaiting is God who’s not only up there in heaven, on earth and everywhere –as we learnt in catechism. He is Jesus, God-man who saves; he is Emmanuel –God who pitches his tent alongside ours and he comes to share our life in order to help us up. And so whatever situation we may encounter; no matter how dark and how lonely we may feel –he assures us by his saving presence.

HOMILY ARCHIVE

FR. JUDE LANGEH,CMF

God is with Us

4th Sunday of Advent (A)

When we are in difficulties, when we are stressed, stretched and desperate, God is with us. When we think all hope is lost and we feel abandoned, God is with us. When we are tempted, God is with us.

Mary is from very humble origins but she became extraordinary by God’s grace, accepting to be part of Salvation History. Since Vatican II Council, in discussing the figure of Mary in the Old Testament, (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 55) the Church refers to the well-known text of Isaiah, which caught the attention of the early Christians: the maiden is with child and will soon give birth to a son whom she will call Immanuel, a name which means “God-is-with-us.”’ (Is 7:14).

In our First Reading, Isaiah proclaims God’s plan for the Saviour who is to come. He will be the visible sign of God’s everlasting presence in our life. There is now a new plan, which entails a new way of living.

The Gospel of Mathew recalls the promise of Isaiah to the house of David. God is clearly acting -in human history, and through Mary will be brought forth the one who fulfills the promise that God is with us.

FR. PHIL BLOOM

Look for the Mess

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2013

Life is messy, but nobody can take your hope from you.

Homilies

Overcoming resistance requires having a goal that matters. As Matthew Kelly explains, it’s really the difference between a pilgrim and tourist. In the journey of life a pilgrim keeps his goal before him. A tourist, on the other hand, goes from one experience to another. When things don’t work out the way he imagines, he gets upset and starts making demands. He makes life miserable for himself and the people around him.

A tourist explodes; a pilgrim asks for patience. Patience costs something: self-denial, delayed gratification. The ability to delay gratification enables a person to attain substantial happiness. It also brings better results in this life: finances, child rearing, marriage and careers all improve. You can read about it in Matthew Kelly’s book – Resisting Happiness.

To attain happiness look for a mess. As Matthew Kelly says, “Life is messy…As children of God we are called to go looking for the mess and make a difference in some way.” Matthew Kelly’s organization, Dynamic Catholic, invites people to send prayer requests. As you can imagine the requests reveal the pain and difficulty many people experience. Matthew Kelly also relates the pain in his own life. Among other things it includes an embarrassing eating disorder. This doesn’t mean getting all hung up on ones weaknesses and misfortunes, but it does mean recognizing God uses trials to reach us. So look for the mess in your own life – and help others in their struggles – that’s where God works most intensely to overcome our resistance to him.

HOMILY ARCHIVE

FR. TOMMY LANE

St. Joseph, Man of Faith, and Patron of the Church

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2013

As we prepare for Christmas, we can turn to Joseph asking his help so that we can prepare our hearts in faith to be worthy mangers to receive Jesus.

Homilies

What gave Joseph the strength to endure all the trials his vocation brought him? It was obviously his life of prayer that gave him the strength to be obedient to God’s call to him. He was a just man, a man of honor as our Gospel today tells us. (Matt 1:19) He had to have been a man of deep faith to fulfill his high calling. There is no record of him being present on Calvary, so we presume he had died before Jesus. We can presume that this man of faith had Jesus and Mary present with him as he died. That is the way that all people of faith would like to die, in the company of Jesus and Mary.

HOMILY ARCHIVE

FATHER MICHAEL CUMMINS

St. Joseph and Corporal Desmond Doss

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2016

In the gospels Joseph speaks no words but his actions and willingness to live by his convictions whether understood by other people or not say volumes about the foster-father of our Lord.

It is important to remember that both the annunciation and Joseph’s dream were private.  Only Mary saw the angel Gabriel.  Only Joseph had the dream.  We know the rest of the story but then, at that moment and in those confusing days, it was not known.  There must have been gossip.  The scandal of a pregnancy outside of marriage and the foolishness of Joseph taking Mary into his home when a truly righteous man and observant Jew would have done no such thing!  The stigma probably did not end with the birth of the child either.  It probably always hung around the Holy Family, it probably followed Joseph to his death bed and it was probably whispered about Christ his whole life.

In the gospels Joseph speaks no words but his actions and willingness to live by his convictions whether understood by other people or not say volumes about the foster-father of our Lord.  Both Mary and Joseph, in their own way, said “yes” to God and they entered into that mystery of mercy and compassion where God’s will is known and made manifest.  Yes, there were some signs that we will hear of in the next few weeks – a shining star, a vision of angels, wise men from the East – but for the vast majority of the world all was ordinary but in that “ordinary” the most extra-ordinary was occurring.  God was coming to be with us.

RECENT HOMLIES

FATHER MICHAEL FALLON, MSC

Mary’s Husband, Joseph

4th Sunday of Advent (A)

As we look upon the scene painted here by Matthew we are meant to see Joseph lost in awe before the mystery and the beauty of what is happening in the womb of Mary.

Joseph is introduced to us in today’s Gospel as ‘a just man’, that is to say, a man who is committed to doing the will of God. This is the characteristic most accented in the Gospel, which concludes with his being obedient to the message that came to him from God in a dream. His reaction to God’s inspiration is the same in the scene where he is told to go to Egypt and again when he is told to return home. As soon as he knows God’s will he immediately does it even though by doing so he is risking everything and going out into the unknown. Such is his complete trust in God. More than anything he wants what God wants. In this he is an example to us of the most basic and important response that we, too, are called to have towards God.

HOMILY ARCHIVE

FR. JOHN KAVANAUGH, SJ

Joseph

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 1997

Joseph, the foster father of Jesus, was the man who would be Christians’ historic image of the good provider, the protector.
Homilies

I’ve often thought about the incident in somewhat literal, realistic terms. Here is this man betrothed to a woman who is going to bear a child that is not his own “flesh and blood.” Everything is already worked out: the child will be a boy and have the name of Jesus. It’s one thing to believe that such an event could occur. It is quite another to accept it and take joy in it. I wonder if Joseph ever felt he was in some way robbed. Anyway, when Joseph awoke, he did as the angel directed and welcomed Mary into his home.

Even if we assume that Joseph was happy with the prospect of being a foster father to this future savior of his people, things did not work out very well. In fact, just about everything was botched up. Instead of security and comfort, they found themselves facing a treacherous journey during the last stage of Mary’s pregnancy. So much for well-wrought plans that any father, foster or not, would want to make. They would have no suitable place to stay, no family or friends around. The earliest days would be full of fear and flight. The first ceremony in the temple would be marred by the ominous prediction of an old seer that his son would be rejected and his wife would have her very soul pierced.

SUNDAY WEB SITE

BISHOP FRANK SCHUSTER

Preparing Our Hearts for a Blessed Christmas

4th Sunday of Advent (A) – 2019

No matter how dark life can get for some folks this time of year, each and every one of us can have a truly blessed Christmas this 2 week if we realize that celebrating Christmas makes no sense at all without our Easter hope.

The fourth Sunday of Advent always comes at the darkest time of the year. How many hours of daylight do we have right now? Something like eight hours? It is depressing to think about. What I enjoy doing sometimes to lift my spirits this time of year is to drive around and look at Christmas lights. Do any of you do that? You know, if you go online and search for funny Christmas lights display, some of them will really make you laugh, like a light display of Santa getting stuck in the chimney or a mishap or two involving reindeer. My favorite one was of two houses side by side. One house was manically decorated with a magical display taking up every inch of grass out front. The other house made an arrow with lights pointing to that neighbor with a sign that said “Ditto”. I thought that was funny anyway. However, anthropologically speaking, I think there is something very right about the instinct we have of putting festive lights everywhere this time of year, especially the ones with religious themes. It almost feels like an act of defiance against the darkness. And, one of the side benefits of Christmas as we all know is that every day that follows has a little more light in it, thanks be to God, a few more minutes each and every day. And somehow celebrating the birthday of the light of the world at Christmas this time of year makes real sense. What this says is, even though life can get dark, God will give us the light we need each and every day if we stay close to him. A relationship with Jesus does that.

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