Fourth Sunday of Advent

DO NOT FEAR THE UNEXPECTED

By Leanna Cappiello

Mary was ‘just a small-town girl, living in a lonely world’. Joseph, a humble God-fearing guy, had full intention of marrying Mary… until the news of her being pregnant with someone else’s child was made known to him. He planned to break things off with her quietly. He was just trying to do the right thing, to do what was expected of him. Then he was essentially told – in a dream – don’t be afraid to marry this girl. The child, though not yours, is of the Holy Spirit. Through this child, God will dwell among us! …

Talk about the unexpected. The story of Mary and Joseph is contrasted in our readings by the story of Ahaz. Ahaz is a king who is about to be overthrown by an invading army. He is a terribly immoral king, and so decides that he will make a pact with the invaders in order to save himself.

However, it requires selling the dignity and independence of the people he is supposed to protect, leaving Isaiah furious. The error of Ahaz is that he did not trust; he acted only on what he could control. It is the opposite of what we hear in the story about Mary and Joseph, who were told by the Angel, “Do not be afraid”. They were told to trust. Haven’t we all heard this before, often in the most bewildering of times? Turns out, we were never alone in that. Remember that decisions cannot be made out of fear: fear of failure, fear of destitution, fear of loneliness, fear of commitment, fear of anything. Allow the Angel to speak to you in the same way during this sensitive and beautiful time in Advent, “Do not be afraid.”

Only in freedom from fear, and at times within the unexpected, can we fully welcome Emmanuel, God among us.

Sunday’s Readings:

Isaiah 7.10-14

Romans 1.1-7

Matthew 1.18-24