Advent Weekday | December 18, 2021
Today’s readings point the way for us and show us what is coming very soon. They remind us to be ready when God puts plan into action!
The first reading comes at a time when the hope that the Israelites might have a common future together in the land of Israel is all but exhausted. It was a desperate time for people – full of corrupted kings, foreign occupations and forced deportations. The identity they had as God’s chosen people seemed long lost.
In the midst of that painful history, God speaks through Jeremiah the prophet and says, “I will soon set up a righteous king who will rule the people justly and the people will be able to return home.”
For those ancient Israelites, bereft of Temple, and city, thinking that hope and homecoming were not possible, it was not easy to believe such a promise. However, things came to pass decades later as Jeremiah had indicated. Yet, at the time Jeremiah spoke, it would have been hard for the people to even envision such a bright future.
Christians saw in this promise the further fulfillment of the true and righteous king – Jesus Christ – who came according to the divine plan to lead people back home to God when they had been led astray and down paths of plans and dreams that did not reflect God’s desires for their lives.
And this is why we hear the pre-Christmas story of those special ones who made enough space in their lives and in their hearts to ensure that God’s plan worked through them. We hear of Zechariah and Elizabeth, of Mary, the mother of Jesus, and today, the Gospel of Matthew brings to us the story of Joseph.
Joseph – who had a plan of his own! Once he found out Mary was pregnant and he wasn’t the father, he could have shamed her publicly by divorcing her. Instead, he planned to sever ties quietly because the Gospel says he was righteous.
But we know that this was not God’s plan. And because Joseph, as a faithful Jewish man, had lived his whole life in righteousness and openness to God, he was able to receive the angel in the dream and the message about God’s plan. And he was able to put aside his careful plan in favor of one that was much more uncertain, open-ended, and perhaps even unclear.
Many times we look back on the Christmas story and romanticize it. In fact, it was in no way an easy or certain journey for Joseph and Mary. Their story and their faithful courage in responding to God gives us strength as we ourselves move through often uncertain times.
Yet it is precisely at these moments of seeming unclarity and confusion when God will still speak to us – as he spoke to Jeremiah and to Joseph. God reminds us that a divine plan is in motion – for our own lives and for all of history.
In these last days before Christmas, God is still speaking to us as we share in God’s own vision for a more loving, just, peaceful and humane world. God is speaking through the Word become flesh. Let us take time to listen for God’s plan, so that we may be ready when the dawn comes.
God give you peace!