4th Sunday of Advent (A)

December 18, 2022

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Pope Francis

March 13, 2013 – Present

ROME REPORTS IN ENGLISH

4th Sunday of Advent (Year A)

DECEMBER 22, 2019

Saint Joseph’s Embarrassing and Conflicting Situation

It was unshakable trust in God that enabled Saint Joseph to accept a humanly difficult and, in a certain sense, incomprehensible situation.

Today’s Gospel passage presents a situation that is in human terms embarrassing and conflicting. Joseph and Mary are betrothed; they do not yet live together, but she is expecting a child by the work of God. Joseph, faced with this surprise, is naturally disturbed but, instead of reacting in an impulsive and punitive manner – as was the custom, the law protected him – he seeks a solution that respects the dignity and integrity of his beloved Mary. The Gospel says so: “And her husband Joseph, being a just man and unwilling to put her to shame, resolved to divorce her quietly” (v. 19). Joseph knew that if he denounced his betrothed, he would expose her to serious consequences, even death. He had full faith in Mary, whom he chose as his bride. He does not understand, but he seeks another solution.

This inexplicable circumstance leads him to question their bond; therefore, with great suffering, he decides to detach himself from Mary without creating scandal. But the Angel of the Lord intervenes to tell him that the solution he proposes is not the one desired by God. On the contrary, the Lord opened a new path for him, a path of union, love and happiness, and said to him: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary as your wife. For that which is conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (v. 20).

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

DECEMBER 18, 2016

The Mystery of God’s Closeness to Humanity

The Gospel passage (cf. Mt 1:18-24) shows us two people, the two people who, more than anyone else, were involved in this mystery of love: the Virgin Mary and her husband, Joseph.

Mary and Joseph, who were the first to welcome Jesus through faith, introduce us to the mystery of Christmas. Mary helps us to assume an attitude of openness in order to welcome the Son of God into our concrete life, in our flesh. Joseph spurs us to always seek God’s will and to follow it with full trust. Both allow God to draw near to them.

“‘Behold, a virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel’, which means, God-with-us” (Mt 1:23). Thus the angel says: “the child shall be called Emmanuel, which means God-with-us”, in other words, God near to us. And to God who draws near, do I open the door — to the Lord — when I sense an interior inspiration, when I hear him ask me to do something more for others, when he calls me to pray?

God-with-us, God who draws near. This message of hope, which is fulfilled at Christmas, leads to fulfilment of the expectation of God in each one of us too, in all the Church, and in the many little ones whom the world scorns, but whom God also loves and to whom God draws near.

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana

homilies

Pope Benedict XVI

April 19, 2005 – February 28, 2013

4th Sunday of Advent (Year A)

DECEMBER 19, 2010

St. Joseph’s Viewpoint of
the Birth of Jesus

Let us venerate the legal father of Jesus, because the new man is outlined in him, who looks with trust and courage to the future.

On this Fourth Sunday of Advent the Gospel according to St Matthew recounts the birth of Jesus from St Joseph’s viewpoint. He was betrothed to Mary who, “before they came together… was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit” (Mt 1:18). The Son of God, fulfilling an ancient prophecy (cf. Is 7:14), became man in the womb of a virgin and this mystery at the same time expressed the love, wisdom and power of God for mankind, wounded by sin. St Joseph is presented as “a just man” (Mt 1:19), faithful to God’s law and ready to do his will. For this reason he enters the mystery of the Incarnation after an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream, announcing: “Joseph, son of David, do not fear to take Mary your wife, for that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit; she will bear a son, and you shall call his name Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins” (Mt 1:20-21). Having given up the idea of divorcing Mary secretly, Joseph took her to himself because he then saw God’s work in her with his own eyes.

St Ambrose comments that “Joseph had the amiability and stature of a just man, to make his capacity as a witness worthier” (Exp. Ev. sec. Lucam II, 5: CCL 14,32-33). St Ambrose continues: “He could not have contaminated the temple of the Holy Spirit, the Mother of the Lord, the womb rendered fertile by the mystery” (ibid., II, 6: CCL 14,33). Although he had felt distressed, Joseph “did as the Angel of the Lord commanded him”, certain that he was doing the right thing. And in giving the name of “Jesus” to the Child who rules the entire universe, he placed himself among the throng of humble and faithful servants, similar to the Angels and Prophets, similar to the Martyrs and to the Apostles — as the ancient Eastern hymns sing. In witnessing to Mary’s virginity, to God’s gratuitous action and in safeguarding the Messiah’s earthly life St Joseph announces the miracle of the Lord. Therefore let us venerate the legal father of Jesus (cf. CCC  n. 532), because the new man is outlined in him, who looks with trust and courage to the future. He does not follow his own plans but entrusts himself without reserve to the infinite mercy of the One who will fulfil the prophecies and open the time of salvation.

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana;

homilies

Pope Saint John Paul II

October 16, 1978 – April 2, 2005

4th Sunday of Advent (Year A)

AUGUST 15, 1989

Redemptoris Custos – Guardian of the Redeemer

APOSTOLIC EXHORTATION

Why should the “fatherly” love of Joseph not have had an influence upon the “filial” love of Jesus? And vice versa why should the “filial” love of Jesus not have had an influence upon the “fatherly” love of Joseph…

Inspired by the Gospel, the Fathers of the Church from the earliest centuries stressed that just as St. Joseph took loving care of Mary and gladly dedicated himself to Jesus Christ’s upbringing,(1) he likewise watches over and protects Christ’s Mystical Body, that is, the Church, of which the Virgin Mary is the exemplar and model.

On the occasion of the centenary of Pope Leo XIII’s Encyclical Epistle Quamquam Pluries,(2) and in line with the veneration given to St. Joseph over the centuries, I wish to offer for your consideration, dear brothers, and sisters, some reflections concerning him “into whose custody God entrusted his most precious treasures.”(3) I gladly fulfill this pastoral duty so that all may grow in devotion to the Patron of the Universal Church and in love for the Savior whom he served in such an exemplary manner.

In this way the whole Christian people not only will turn to St. Joseph with greater fervor and invoke his patronage with trust, but also will always keep before their eyes his humble, mature way of serving and of “taking part” in the plan of salvation.(4)

I am convinced that by reflection upon the way that Mary’s spouse shared in the divine mystery, the Church – on the road towards the future with all of humanity – will be enabled to discover ever anew her own identity within this redemptive plan, which is founded on the mystery of the Incarnation.

This is precisely the mystery in which Joseph of Nazareth “shared” like no other human being except Mary, the Mother of the Incarnate Word. He shared in it with her; he was involved in the same salvific event; he was the guardian of the same love, through the power of which the eternal Father “destined us to be his sons through Jesus Christ” (Eph 1:5).

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SOURCE: The Holy See Archive at the Vatican Website © Libreria Editrice Vaticana;

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