4th Sunday Of Advent Year A
Theme of the week: We called to mission to others as Christ did, carrying our crosses along the way.
Have God ever called you to a mission? God can call you through the words of a friend, a sermon or a reflection piece such as this. While God’s means of communication may be different, one thing is common – that God is calling you to serve Him for the greater good of others. Often, to carry out this mission, it exacts a cost from you personally, whether it is a small sacrifice like a personal inconvenience or something major like financial hardship or emotional trauma. How did I react to God’s call? Did I respond to Him affirmatively and bear the cross that came with the mission; or did I conveniently pretend I did not hear the call?
King Ahaz was the king of Judah and a descendant of King David. The First Reading happened at a time when Judah was being invaded by the kingdoms of Aram and Ephraim. Ahaz was in a panic. In an attempt to instil faith in Ahaz, Through the words of the prophet Isaiah, God offered a sign to Ahaz. But Ahaz did not want to hear the call of God. In spite of Ahaz’s refusal, the sign was given. The sign came in the form of a prophecy, commonly repeated at Christmas time, that the maiden will bear a son whom will be called Emmanuel (which means “God is with us”) (verse 14). At a superficial and physical level, this is a promise to Ahaz that his wife the maiden will soon give birth to a son, the future King Hezekiah. With God by his side (God is with us), Hezekiah would become a great king. At an allegorical and deeper level, God’s promise is not just addressed to Ahaz, but also to all generations of all times: that like Ahaz, at a time that we feel beseeched by evil of every kind, the Son of God, born of a virgin, will come live among us and deliver us from all evils. Imagine, for the lack of courage and faith on the part of Ahaz, the human race was nearly denied of this prophecy!
Most of us are familiar with the Gospel story this week; of how Joseph, upon the revelation of an angel, took Mary as his wife. Joseph must have been very confused. To save Mary from the shame of conceiving a baby out of wedlock, Joseph was originally planning to quietly divorce Mary. But the angel said to Joseph, “the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit” (verse 20). Reflect upon this for a moment. The most perfect woman in history has just conceived the most perfect man in history in her womb, and Joseph was called to be the husband and father of them. What a daunting mission! We can imagine Joseph being overawed by the task he was given and was understandably afraid.
Just as God sent the prophet Isaiah to assure King Ahaz, He sent an angel to assure Joseph. “Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife” (verse 20), the angel said to Joseph. In spite of God’s assurance, Ahaz and Joseph reacted very differently to God’s call. While Ahaz turned down Lod’s offer; Joseph “did as the angel of the Lord commanded him” (verse 24).
Missions are never easy. I may be called to serve the vulnerable, attend to the sick, support a friend through difficulties or reconcile with an estranged family member. What is God calling me to do? Do not be afraid, for God is with you and He will equip you. Christ too has a mission. Christ brings salvation to the world, not just to the Jewish race, but as the Second Reading explains it, to all people including “all the Gentiles” (verse 5). The Second Reading explains to us how God equipped Christ in two important ways:
- Christ was born a descendent of David. This confers him earthly kingship (verse 3).
- Christ was proclaimed the Son of God by his resurrection. This confers him heavenly kingship (verse 4).
As we enter the final week before Christmas, in the midst of our busy preparation for Christmas, let us pause and reflect on the message in this week’s Scripture. God love us so much that he himself came to earth to live among us as one of us, and in due course, bear all our sins upon Himself on the cross. We are called to mission to others as He did, carrying our crosses along the way. Emmanuel – may God be with us.