God’s plan is the best
1. ✠ A reading from the holy Gospel according to Matthew (1:18-24)
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about. When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit. Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold, the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, “Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her. She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus, because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home. Taken from today’s Sunday gospel for 4th Sunday of Advent A.
2. Today’s readings converge to say that God has his plans for his creatures and that his plan is always the best. In the first reading (Is7:10-14) we are presented with King Ahaz. This man was threatened by two strong nations, namely Israel and Syria. Instead of going to God to ask for help he resorted to Assyria, a pagan country. The prophet Isaiah called him to order and assured him that God will help him. But Ahaz does not want to abandon his original plan with Assyria to embrace that of God. Even when the prophet asked him to request a sign from God he refused. God then insisted and announced a sign, that a virgin will conceive and bear a son whose name will be Emmanuel.
3. It is not always easy to abandon a plan that seems good even when it seems not to accord with God’s will. That is why we still wilfully commit certain sins. But God will continue to communicate his good plans to humanity. In today’s gospel we see two young people: Joseph and Mary, who have officially concluded a plan to found a family through marriage. From nowhere God sent an angel to Mary with a message which will scatter their beautiful plan. Unlike like Ahaz, Mary accepted the plan of God and conceived Jesus. Joseph was not privy to this new plan. He had to painfully discover that his fiancee has become pregnant behind his back.
4. Finding a wife material as we say in our language is not an easy affair. When this has been done and something happens to scatter the plan it is always a painful experience. Such was the situation between Joseph and Mary. Joseph knew that the marriage cannot continue. Being a good man, he decided not to expose Mary to public ridicule and possible death for infidelity. He made up his mind to end the marriage without giving any reason. By this decision he teaches us that a good man can be considerate in dealing with a perceived sinner. He has right to denounce mary following the Jewish tradition. But he decided to be merciful to her. It was at this moment that God intervened again through his angel in a dream to Joseph. He told him that Mary was not unfaithful to him. She was only responding to the plan of God. She will bear a son, who, as was prophesied by Isaiah, will be God among men. Joseph unlike Ahaz accepted the message. Dream cannot really be an authentic means of verifiable information but being a sincere lover, Joseph was ready to give a second chance to Mary and any justification was acceptable to him.
5. In accepting the plan of God, Joseph and Mary gave up their original plan of founding a family and became docile instruments in the hands of God. It was not easy for them but by persevering they offered to the world the Emmanuel, God with us. Through Joseph and Mary we see clearly the message of today’s Sunday, namely that God’s plan could shatter our own plans putting us through unexpected stress but if we embrace God’s plan we become more useful to God and humanity.
6. The year is ending. Your initial plans for the year may have been shattered by some unexpected events: joyful or sorrowful, success or failure. How did you react to the change of plan? Like Ahaz who by persisting in his plan met with totally failure or like Joseph and Mary who dropped their plan and followed the one proposed by God? Whatever may be your experience, do not forget that the greatest plan of God for you this year is the salvation of your soul. Any other plan that goes against this must be kicked out of your life. If you compromised this great plan of God in any way this year, it is now time for you to retrace your steps and receive the sacrament of reconciliation before the great day of Christmas so that your joy will be complete. ©Vita, 18/12/22.