In last week’s reading from St Paul, we were advised to be patient, with many examples of patience being rewarded. In today’s first reading the prophet Isaiah scolds Ahaz for not co-operating with him saying ‘are you not satisfied with trying the patience of men without trying the patience of my God, too?’ Advent is not only a time of waiting, it is a time for practicing patience.
This prompted me to ponder on how patient I am. I recalled how often I have sat waiting in a car. Whether it was when I was younger with my Dad and my brothers waiting outside my mum’s work for her to finish, or the times we sat while my parents went into the department store shopping for our Christmas presents or just by myself waiting on the children when they were younger to finish a club or school, I seem to have spent a great deal of time waiting.
This made me realise, I am not a patient man, I find it quite frustrating to wait, especially when I feel ready to go wherever it is that I am waiting to go. Of course, Advent is a time of waiting, young children often find it unbearable to wait until Christmas Day to find out if they have been on the naughty list or the nice list. Like many of you may have, I find waiting until the end of the working year seems to take an age with the last few days and hours going particularly slowly.
In today’s Gospel, we hear about the birth of Jesus from Joseph’s perspective, Joseph was betrothed to Mary, who tells him that she is pregnant through the Holy Spirit; he knows the baby is not his and decides to divorce Mary informally. However, God speaks to Joseph through a dream. In his dream the Angel of the Lord confirms that everything Mary has told him is true. Matthew’s Gospel refers to Joseph and later on to Jesus as ‘Son of David’; for his Jewish readers at the time this was hugely significant. Emphasised by Matthew pointing out how this fulfilled the scriptures; the same scripture reading we heard in our first reading today ‘The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son, and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means God is with us.’
In the second reading St Paul is sharing with the Romans and to all the non-Jewish nations; the Good News about Jesus. He is telling them about his Mission to share this Good News with every nation. We are one of those nations and we are called, through our Baptism, to join in his mission to share this Good News.
As we patiently enter the last few days of Advent and approach the day we have been waiting for, we remember that Jesus promised to come again and that we have to be ready. Today here in church we hear about the real meaning of Christmas, so how do we share the real meaning of Christmas with those outside of our church? The adverts tell us to make someone feel special by lavishing them with gifts, the message is to spend, spend, spend.
Jesus didn’t come to encourage spending money, Jesus came to encourage sharing, loving and caring. In these days of excess, where we are encouraged to eat, drink and be merry, we can choose to remember those for whom this is not a happy time, those for whom life is a struggle.
For example, have we checked what is needed at the local Foodbank? It would be good to maybe write down some of the items needed and add them to our shopping list. Maybe we are blessed enough to be invited to Christmas parties or celebrations with colleagues and friends, could we maybe donate the cost of a meal out or a round of drinks to a worthy cause like Cafod or a homeless Shelter? Are we aware of any neighbours who live by themselves and maybe don’t see or hear from anyone from one week to another? Could we either visit them or call them to let them know someone cares? Or perhaps there are neighbours struggling to heat their home, could we invite them round and share our warm homes and hearts with them?
Jesus encourages us to a different spend, spend, spend; he wants us to spend time thinking about Him, to spend time thinking about others and once our contemplation is complete, to spend time fulfilling the actions prompted by our thoughts.
In his Pastoral letter this week Bishop Philip reminds us of his invitation to each one of us to develop six holy habits for this time of change and deep personal renewal, Advent is an ideal time to take on these habits.
The Catechism of the Catholic Church
CCC 496-507, 495: Mary’s virginal motherhood
CCC 437, 456, 484-486, 721-726: Mary the Mother of Christ by the Holy Spirit
CCC 1846: Jesus as Savior revealed to Joseph
CCC 445, 648, 695: Christ the Son of God in his Resurrection
CCC 143-149, 494, 2087: the “obedience of faith”
Please keep in your prayers this week
- Peace between all Nations.
- Those who are sick, those recovering from surgery, those who are dying, the recently deceased and those who mourn.
- All those struggling to feed their families at this time.
- Those working to help others who are struggling with the cost-of-living crisis.
- Those in business who have the power to make decisions to help the poor.
- All those working in Parishes and the Diocese on the ten-year plan
- All of our young people preparing for the Sacraments.
- Those attending our RCIA programme.
- Those who may be embarrassed or too proud to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation. [Pastoral Area Reconciliation service is 18th December at 2:30 in St Joseph’s]