The Gospel Today
Fourth Sunday of Advent
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
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 into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
Reflection (Sem. Jul Elden Nuique):
“Emmanuel… means God is with us.” This aspect of God shines forth for me in this Gospel pericope. God’s love is abiding, Christ’s love is tangible, and the Holy Spirit brings all creation into blessed communion. At the time of this writing, I have received most of my class cards from the previous semester, being a present student of theology. I can say that I clearly experience the love of God in the good marks that I got. However, as of today, it has been more than a week since Typhoon Yolanda decimated Tacloban City in Leyte, along with other coastal towns in that region of our country. Relief goods continue to crawl at a snail’s pace, and our countrymen, if we believe all the graphic news accounts, bitterly suffer pillage, rape, and murder at the hands of their crazed townsfolk. I ask myself, do they feel loved by God?
It appears impossible to talk about God’s love in the midst of hunger, lawlessness, and death. It seems an affront to the typhoon victims to look beyond their immediate danger towards the eternal truth that is God. Yet, I honestly believe that it is only with a view to God that we can help our countrymen retain their faith, hope, and humanity.
When we look to God, we find him our history. In Scripture, Noah suffered through the godlessness of his time and God cared for him even past forty days and nights of the Great Flood. When Israel left the slavery of Egypt, God cared for them when they passed the Red Sea with dry feet and traversed the wilderness for forty years. In the Chosen People’s seventy-five-year Exile in Babylon, God preserved them even in the midst of physical and spiritual dangers. Even the early Christians witnessed to the saving power of God, despite prolonged and grave persecution from their Jewish and Roman oppressors. Even outside Scripture, our country’s salvation from the destructive powers of Mount Pinatubo, the earthquake in Baguio, and the floods of Ondoy, attests to the ever-present love of God.
We must never lose the memory of how God continues to be with us – strengthening us in our suffering, protecting us from ultimate destruction, nursing us back to health. It is only with an intact remembrance of our love affair with God that we can ever hope to retain our humanity, despite the immediate desperation of present crises. In looking back at our lives with a complete perspective, we can genuinely say that God remains faithful to us.