The Fourth Sunday of Advent
                                                                                    December 24, 2023

                                                                                                                        Fr. José Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
                                                                                                                                                                           Pastor of the Church of St. Peter
                                                                                                                                                                                North St. Paul, Minnesota

Sunday Reading Meditations

"God is with us."

We are so close to Christmas!  We are about to celebrate the presence of God with us.

There are important questions that we should think about.  How is God going to be with us?  What does God need to be with us?  How did God enter the world?

Our Lord traveled a long path until He dwelt with us.  He needed many people.  He needed the availability of a series of people. It is not correct to say that God "needs."  He does not "need" anything.  He can do whatever he wants.  However, he particularly wanted to need human beings.  He needs our collaboration because He is coming to share His life with us.  God comes to us through people.

He needed Mary's "yes" to enter the world.  Nevertheless, before Her, with Her and after Her, He needed and He needs women and men who answer His requests affirmatively.  Mary's acceptance is unique.  However, Her "yes" is the center of a constellation, a galaxy of many "yeses."

God needed Abraham, all the prophets, King David and generation and generation of believers who waited for the coming of the Messiah. He needed John the Baptist and, as we heard in today's Gospel, he needed Joseph.

Saint Joseph shows us how to collaborate with the work of God.  He helps us understand what must be done to allow the Lord to become a presence in this world.

Joseph had a fiancée he loved and work he enjoyed.  He had projects like any human being.  He wanted to marry, build a family and be happy, to have a quiet and simple life.

However, God wanted to included Joseph in a bigger project, an infinite project!  That scared him.  He wanted to give up.  He was frightened.  He never could have imagined what was happening!  All the things he had dreamed about were put aside.  Joseph thought he was not worthy of such a mission.  He wanted to return to a normal life.

However, '. . . the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said: 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid.'"  Joseph's answer to the angel was a decisive "yes," like that of his bide.  More important than his own projects were those of God, Mary; and the coming child.  Joseph had a special way of participating in the "yes" of Mary.  Joseph and Mary's "yes" to the will of God was the deepest reason for their union.  Their "yes" serves as an extraordinary example for all couples!

What contribution did Joseph make to Our Lord's entrance into the world?  It was his acceptance of God's w3illk the sacrifice of his own limited projects for the infinite divine design.

There is no other way for our Lord to come to us unless we say our "yes" with trust and joy.

Today's world needs God.  It does not need an idea of God.  It needs His presence.  It needs witnesses. Today's world needs people who say "yes" to the Lord's will without fear.  Today's world needs you and me.

"God is with us."

Saint Joseph, help us all to expound generously to whatever God asks of us, that we may contribute to His coming to dwell among us.  Amen.