4th Sunday of Advent, Cycle A

As the saying goes, it is always darkest before the dawn, but the dawn also represents the light growing brighter and brighter. This Sunday the light of the Advent wreath is full because we are close to the dawn of our salvation through the birth of Our Lord: God will soon visibly be with us after nine months in his mother’s womb.

In today’s First Reading Isaiah makes a prophecy that a a virgin will conceive and bear a son named Emmanuel (“God is with us”). Matthew in today’s Gospel shows that prophecy fulfilled in Jesus, and also the source of Joseph’s confusion and dilemma: Mary’s fidelity to the marriage agreement their families had already made was called into question. Was the engagement off? Joseph was leaning in that direction when the angel helped him see the path forward: this was all part of God’s plan.

Joseph went from quietly considering his options to experiencing a revelation in the fog of a dream. Big, life-impacting decisions often go beyond our mental calculus, beyond reassuring certainties: things get fuzzy and foggy. Big decisions imply risk. We can either decide in fear and uncertainty or in faith and trust in Our Lord.

Advent is almost over. Has the Lord sent any angels to you? Christmas break and the impending New Year is a good time for making decisions in faith. God is with you.

Readings: Isaiah 7:10–14; Psalm 24:1–6; Romans 1:1–7; Matthew 1:18–24. See also Saint Joseph, Husband of MaryAdvent, December 18th, and Nativity of the Blessed Virgin Mary.