This weekend is Saturday the 21st and Sunday the 22nd of December, beginning the Fourth Week of Advent.

Nóirín Ní Riain sings the Magnificat, the song of Mary: “My soul glorifies the Lord.  My Spirit rejoices in God my Saviour. He looks on his serv­ant in her lowliness.  Henceforth, all ages will call me blessed.” As I listen, can I sense the Lord looking on me in my lowliness, and can I rejoice in him and in all that he does for me?

We have encountered over the past week a number of themes that seem to draw us closer to the meaning of the mystery of the Incarnation, which we are going to celebrate soon.  What has come out clearly is that this mystery is not just the Christmas event that will take place on Wednesday.  It is something to be celebrated in our day to day life.  God comes to dwell among us every time, and we have only to open our hearts in trust to welcome that precious presence.  Sometimes we doubt, sometimes we close our hearts completely to ourselves, sometimes we fail to maintain justice and do what is right, and sometimes we don’t even know what to do, and as a result we miss a moment of grace.
In today’s reading from the gospel of Matthew Mary and Joseph give us an example of what we ought to do in order to experience ‘Emmanuel’, ‘God with us’.

Mary is found to be with child because she had accepted the words of the angel Gabriel.  Joseph, her husband, is perturbed and plans to ‘dismiss her quietly’.  How do you react when perturbing news is given to you?

What if this news is actually from God?

As you hear this reading again, notice how attentive Joseph is to signs of God in him and around him.  He pays attention even to his dream; he does not want to miss a moment of grace.

Joseph wakes up from his sleep and, convinced that God has spoken to him, abandons his earlier resolve, and does exactly what the angel of the Lord commands.  Can you learn from this the importance of trusting in the Lord’s will for you and take that brave risk of carrying it out?

Joseph was concerned about the ‘public disgrace’.  Sometimes accepting God to dwell among us may result in public disgrace.  How do you want to accept God in your life this Christmas?

Talk to God now about your feelings.  Ask for whatever you need to be like Joseph in moments of great doubt or fear.