My brothers and sisters in Christ,1
So we are getting close to Christmas, just a few days!
And the readings that we have just heard this morning are intended to help us make our final preparations — to get our hearts and minds ready for Christmas.
These readings today tell us that God has a plan for creation, a plan for history. And the coming of Jesus at Christmas fulfills the prophecy of Isaiah that we hear in the first reading today:
Therefore, the Lord himself will give you this sign:
The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel!
Emmanuel, as we all know, means, “God is with us.”
The Lord himself, God wants to be with us. He is coming into the world, personally — to live the human life that we all live and to share his own divine life with us.
This is God’s plan for the world. This is his plan for your life and my life, for the life of every person who has ever been born and every person who will be born in the future.
God loves us so much, it’s amazing. He love us so much that he comes to live with us, he comes to join us on this journey of our lives.
And every Christmas, when we celebrate the birth of Jesus, this is a beautiful reminder of that amazing love of God for each one of us and his plan for humanity.
St. Paul says today in the second reading that Jesus Christ is true God and true man. He is “descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness.”
And he comes to give us grace, he comes to give us peace.
So, my dear brothers and sisters, it makes sense that we try to have our heart especially ready for this encounter, this meeting with God.
So, as we are here today just a couple days before Christmas, we have to ask ourselves if we are ready to receive this extraordinary gift of God’s love.
Are we ready to receive Jesus? I think all of us have to ask ourselves this question. Are we ready to say “yes” to Jesus, to his call to holiness, to his call to follow him and to live his life in the world?
I’m sure that that’s what we expect on Christmas is the birth of Jesus — it’s not just Christmas gifts or Christmas shopping or all of that materialistic things that we are used to doing at this time.
It is about Jesus.
And God comes to us because he wants our love, he is inviting us to stay close to him and to live a beautiful life with him. That’s what we want to be ready for Christmas, because God wants to be with us.
So, this is the meaning of that beautiful passage of the Gospel that we heard this morning, the story of Joseph and Mary and the angel, who are themselves getting ready for Jesus.
And especially today’s passage of the Gospel is about St. Joseph, the choice he has to make.
It is a real challenge for him. He finds the woman that he is planning to get married to — that she is already with child. And he does not know what to think.
He loves Mary and he does not want to do anything that would hurt her, or make her feel ashamed. So, he decides that he is going to divorce her quietly.
The Gospel today tells us that St. Joseph is “a righteous man.” Now, that means more than just that Joseph was a nice guy, a good person with a good heart.
Righteous is one of those words in Sacred Scripture that tells us about our relationship with God. Righteous means that Joseph has faith in God’s plan for his life. It means that Joseph is a man who wants to live by God’s commandments, that he wants to do God’s will in his life.
And so when the angel comes to him in his dream, Joseph is ready. I always think that it is very interesting that in the Bible — in the Gospels — we never find any words from St. Joseph. In all of the Gospels, there is not one word recorded from St. Joseph. It always tells me to think that he is a man of action, not of words.
So, as we heard today:
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him.
My dear brothers and sisters, St. Joseph is being presented to us today as a model.
God wants each one of us to be righteous, in the Scriptural sense of that. He wants us to trust in his plan for our lives — to live with courage, according to God’s commands. God wants you to follow Jesus with confidence, and to live according to his plan, not our own plans, but God’s beautiful plan for each one of us.
This is why Jesus is coming into the world. He is coming to make it possible for us to lead a righteous life, to lead a holy life.
And each one of us — we all have a part to play in God’s plan for the world. Just as our Blessed Mother Mary did, just as St. Joseph did.
Yes our lives, my dear brothers and sisters, are like a pilgrimage we are making, a journey that we are walking with God. And as St. Joseph, we have to trust that God knows what is best for each one of us, that God knows where we are going, that God has a beautiful plan for our lives.
And it starts, we shouldn’t forget this, when we receive Jesus in our hearts. It starts when we say “yes” to God — just like St. Joseph, just like the Virgin Mary.
So these days, as we prepare for Christmas, let us reflect on the example of St. Joseph. In the tradition of the Church, St. Joseph is considered a teacher of Spiritual life. St. Teresa of Avila said that in St. Joseph we have “a teacher of prayer.” It makes sense because he was the closest person to Jesus and to Mary.
So St. Joseph can help each one of us, in a special way, to learn how to be as close to him as he was. So let’s ask for his intercession. Let’s try to imitate him — St. Joseph — the faithful foster father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
So let’s ask our Blessed Mother for her intercession, may she help us to open our hearts so we can really be ready for Christmas, really be ready to receive Jesus.
1. Readings: Isa. 7:10-14; Ps. 24:1-6; Rom. 1:1-7; Matt. 1:18-24.