FOURTH SUNDAY of Advent
FROM FATHER NICO
A two-year-old boy asks his father, “how are you related to my favorite uncle Bob?” The father explains that he and his Uncle Bob have the same dad, which makes them siblings. To check that the kid gets it, the father asks, “You and your brother James have the same dad, me — what does that make you?” Without missing a beat, the boy replies, “Happy!”
We find the story sweet. We find the boy delightful and charming. In the Gospel reading this Fourth and last Sunday of Advent (see Matthew 1:18-24), Saint Matthew also tells a story about a father and a son, about Joseph and Jesus. Their story not only sweetens our lives, delights, and charms us; it also brings us the good news. And what is the good news? That Jesus is Emmanuel which means God is with us. That we are never entirely alone. We have a brother. We have a brother in Jesus. That is good news! And what should that make us? As the boy said in our story, it should make us “Happy!” Happy because no matter what, having Jesus on our side means we are never entirely alone. We will never be alone.
I could only imagine Joseph’s concerns when he discovered that Mary was pregnant. How utterly frightened Joseph must have felt that God sent an angel to assure him in a dream, “Do not be afraid.” These words of the Angel, “Do not be afraid,” must have given Joseph strength and hope. And so, they should for us, also.
Friends, the Lord is with us. That is the good news. We are never entirely alone. We may feel lost, not knowing where to go and what to do; we can find clarity with these words in prayer: The Lord is with us. We may feel we lack the grace and gifts to live holy and faithful lives, to live our full potential, and to concretize our plans; we can find encouragement with these words in prayer: The Lord is with us. We may feel frightened, alone, weak, and anxious; we can find strength with these words in prayer: The Lord is with us. We may feel lost in the overwhelming uncertainty and impossibility around us, but we can find hope with these words in prayer: The Lord is with us.
Advent season encourages us to trust, inspires us to hope, and offers us faith-filled reassurance that we are never entirely alone. No matter what our situation is. There is good news, no matter what is happening around us or in us. We are never wholly alone. The Lord is with us. Jesus, our brother, is with us. That should make us find happiness and peace even amid chaos. Only Jesus can calm the storm around us and in us.
To all who might feel alone or lonely, to all who might feel helpless or hopeless, to those who might be worried or frightened about the future… The reassuring words of the Angel to Joseph – “Do not be afraid” – are now God’s words to us.
I invite you before you do anything. Breathe in and out these simple words: Do not be afraid; the Lord is with me. Jesus is with me.
Despite how things seem, we are never entirely alone. The Lord is with us. Jesus, our brother, is with us. And what does that make us?” Without missing a beat, like the boy in our story, we can say, “Happy!” And may God bless you!
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