Fourth Sunday of Advent (A)
Jesus is born of Mary who was betrothed to Joseph, son of David
The Word This Week
Here we enter a new stage of Advent: having spent so much time on the Second Coming, now we look back, to remember the details of the Lords First Coming. Today we focus on the characters of Mary and Joseph, and hear of the circumstances surrounding the conception of the child Jesus, and the reaction of Joseph. This mystery springs from the House of David, and so we lead into the Gospel by hearing of the promise that the Messiah would come from that line. The link between the First Reading and the Gospel is quite explicit today, since Matthew actually quotes Isaiah. Joseph, descendant of King David, is invited to take his place in the great story of Gods relationship with the
Notes for Readers
Sometimes there is a comforting familiarity about the Word of God a sort of Oh yes, I know what this ones all about feeling! Today is an ideal example: we know that Christmas is only a breath away, and we hear the prophecy of Isaiah to Ahaz, and immediately fill in the gaps and interpret the prophecy correctly. While this takes some of the pressure off the reader, you still have to deliver the message clearly! Ahaz is not a nice character (he was reputed to have sacrificed his son in a pagan ritual, and dismantled the Temple of the Lord in favour of worship of a foreign god in Damascus) When he says I will not put the Lord to the test its not a virtuous statement (which is how it can sound to us) basically hes saying he doesnt need God for anything, which is why Isaiah is angry with him. Once youve got over this awkward paragraph the rest should be plain sailing.
Why do we read this today? (This is always a good question to ask about a reading, especially in the seasons of Advent, Christmas, Lent or Easter). Paul begins his letter to the Christians in