Professor of Canon Law, Divine Word Seminary
Director, St. Jude Catholic School
Commentary 2: Fr. Ferdinand Alfante, SVD
Assistant Administrative Head
St. Jude Catholic School, Manila, Philippines
Reading 1: Is 7:10-14
Responsorial Psalm: Ps 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6
R. (7c and 10b) Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.
Reading II: Rom 1:1-7
Christmas Is To Have Jesus
Christmas is to be with Jesus.
Christmas is not only wanting to be with Jesus, it also means God wanting to be with us.
Therefore if God is with us, he helps us transform our human conditions and situations.
Indeed, if God is with us, we can do something beautiful and without reserve to transform human condition and situations.
Who do you want to be with this Christmas? Our response: we want to be with Jesus, the Emmanuel, the God with us.
“This strikes me as the Poor Kids’ Last Supper…” And then she stared at the painter and said,
“You know, my friend, they are actually not poor…”
“What? You’re the only one who said that.” Joey wondered smilingly at her remark.
And she continued: “…because THEY HAVE JESUS.”
When a bar examinee got the highest mark, he is honored as the topnotcher.
When Manny Pacquiao won the super featherweight fight, he is called the Pinoy top-boxer.
Today’s gospel gives tribute to a man who was not an honor student, neither a bar topnotcher nor a well-loved boxer. He was just known as a silent worker, a carpenter, a husband of Mary, and a foster father of Jesus. His name is Joseph.
Joseph had an important role in Jesus’ Incarnation. In a patriarchal and heavily hierarchical society like that of the Jews in Jesus’ time, there is a need for man to stand up for the rights of women and their children. Since Mary conceived a child by the power of the Holy Spirit during the time of their engagement, Joseph’s action of taking Mary as his wife was very important. If Joseph did not marry her, Mary with the child in her womb might be stoned to death. The Divine Plan of Incarnation would have been ruined.
Why did God choose Joseph as the guardian of Jesus and Mary? Let me present three reasons why Joseph was chosen by God for this significant role in the Incarnation of Jesus.
1. He is obedient to the will of God. The gospel says, “When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home.” Today’s gospel tells us about how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. Mary, Joseph’s wife, was found to be pregnant by the action of the Holy Spirit before they were married. “This took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: ‘Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son, and they shall name him ‘Emmanuel’.” God always fulfills his promise – the imminent coming of the King. Yet He needs the cooperation of human beings to make His plan come true. That’s why God called Joseph to take responsibility to accept Mary as his wife. Although in such a critical situation Joseph might have panicked a bit and even “planned to dismiss her quietly,” he was disposed to listen to God’s message as it was revealed to him by an angel. Joseph accepted the call and responded positively despite the fact that his acceptance jeopardized his personal interest. Furthermore, he was all the more ready to put the Lord’s command into practice.
2. He is a righteous man in the eyes of God. The gospel says, “… he was a righteous man.” Joseph did not only think about his own good. He thought about Mary’s good, too.
His justice was truly greater. Instead of denouncing, he preferred to respect the mystery which he did not understand. The greatest justice of Joseph saved both the life of Mary and that of Jesus.
3. He is King David’s descendant according to the plan of God. The gospel says, “… the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife…’” Joseph was the descendant of King David, and the father of Jesus. This is to fulfill what the Lord had said to prophet Jeremiah, “I will raise a shoot from David.” Despite of David’s sins, he was a man after God’s own heart. It was he whom God accepted to begin the dynasty of kings, and it was in his line that Jesus the Messiah would be born. In the Old Testament, David was known as the most popular and most beloved king while Jesus was the most famous and most loved king of the New Testament.
As we celebrate the fourth Sunday of Advent, we should be careful not to overlook the essential elements in our preparation for the birth of Jesus. Today’s gospel encourages us to imitate the attitude of Joseph as God’s cooperator in His plan of salvation. Similarly, we are also called to cooperate with God in the salvation of humankind. That cooperation can be expressed in the way we take our responsibilities; by the way we are acting intelligently, with justice for the good of all the people. With this we can reflect upon our own lives. How responsible am I in my life? How do I cooperate with God’s plan to help people?