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18/12/2016 – 4th Sunday of Advent- A

18/12/2016 – 4th Sunday of Advent- A

1st reading Is 7,10-14 * from Psalm 23 * 2nd reading Rm 1, 1-7 * Gospel Mt 1,18-24

Matthew has presented us Joseph in a particular and decisive moment of his life. He is struggling with his own thoughts and reasoning, because the situation that he finds himself in is really difficult, without any exit. His love for Mary is hindered by what has happened in her. His doubts increase in his heart and try to find refuge in his mind. He is a man who trust in God and does not want to to displease Him. God comes to meet Joseph, at the last moment, but does not suggest to him new ideas or reasonings, but donates him a dream. In addition, in the dream God gives him explanations and asks him obedience. Joseph obeys: he does not imitate his ancestor, the king Acaz, who did not want to hear of obedience.

For this reason the prophet Isaiah admonishes Acaz of being one of those who want to tire God! How does one tire God? This is an audacious, but very expressive word. God cannot continue to benefit those who do not obey him. By now, he is tired of asking for the collaboration of those not-well-behaved men to be disobedient, and he starts to behave by himself. Man cannot pride himself of that which is to come. Here is the great work of God: “The virgin shall conceive”. Man remains only a spectator and must say thanks to God. The Virgin without the intervention of man, shall bear a son, a son which cannot receive the name from men. They would not be able to give him a name which will be revealed and which distinguish himself among the countless other sons of men. His name is new, is higher than any imagination and human desire. He will be called “Emmanuel”: we know what this name means. This name is his identity, not only the word which we will use to speak to him or to call him. Joseph in fact must call him “Jesus”, which indicates the fruit and the consequence of the fact that he is “God with us”. Infact if God is with us, he will save us, we are all saved and we are we are safe. This is the significance of the name “Jesus”. The angel tells everything to Joseph, the “righteous man” who wants to be at the disposition of God. He speaks about Mary and the son who was conceived in Mary without intervention of Joseph. But now Joseph has a role, an important role, from now onwards: he will be the father who recognizes as his own son that baby giving him the name which the baby already possesses and giving him all his care and attention that he deserves.

And this son is more than normal: infact, “he will save his people from their sins”. Children born to save the people have always been in the past: Moses, Gideon, Samson and various others. They however had to save the people from contingent situations, from the enemy of the moment, an external enemy. But the child which Mary will have will save his people, “from their sins”. This is a novelty. Can Joseph understand? We too cannot understand, though we have made experience of this salvation many times and in many ways. No, we do not understand, because speaking of Jesus we say that he has done a lot of beautiful things, great, that is the miracles, his wisdom, his love for everyone, we say his own resurrection from the death. It is difficult however to hear from the mouth of the Christians that his primary task, rather, unique, was and is to “save his people from their sins". Saying this is affirming that we are essentially sinners, but we do not want to accept it. Our language and our mentality is already formed, impregnated, with foreign reasoning from philosophies without God, which want to think of man as all good, healthy, even when man does not show it.

Joseph does not ask for other explanations, he does not doubt: he recognizes that the word which he received in the dream conforms to the Scriptures, and thus he obeys. It is for this fact that we esteem Joseph as a great person, and we thank him and we retain his obedience to God as a gift to us, as an intercession for our own conversion.

On him we measure our relationship with God and the Son of God, as St. Paul did. The latter is convinced that he is called to bring the name of Jesus to all those who are in need of pardon. And for this he calls “to the obedience of faith” all the peoples, those who have never heard of God as our Father. The faith opened himself the acceptance of obedience, that obedience made love, which we too try to live already. In this obedience, which manifests the true faith, we exercise ourselves to help us get nearer with humility and awe to the child who in a few days we will contemplate again in the arms of Mary, praised and sang by the angels and taken care by Joseph!