In the Gospel for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, the angel of the Lord appears to Joseph in a dream. The angel tells Joseph to not divorce, Mary, his pregnant fiancée. The angel tells him to take her into his home. “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’ ” (Matthew 1: 22-23). God is with us in unexpected ways. Betrothed to marry Joseph, Mary conceives Jesus by the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph discovers his bride-to-be pregnant. God is with us when the family of a critically ill patient keeps vigil in the ICU. God with us when a stranger in the check out line strikes up a conversation. God is with us when a young adult thanks his parents for raising him. How is God with you today?
In the Gospel for the Third Sunday of Advent, imprisoned John the Baptist sends his disciples to find out if Jesus is the Messiah. ” ‘Are you the one who is to come, or should we look for another?’ Jesus said to them in reply, ‘Go and tell John what you hear and see: the blind regain their sight, the lame walk, lepers are cleansed, the deaf hear,the dead are raised, and the poor have the good news proclaimed to them’ ” (Matthew 11: 3-5). Jesus affirms his saving mission to bless the needy. He recalls the promise of the prophets that God will save the people and heal them. Jesus is the one from God to heal our infirmities, repair our brokenness, free us from addictions, feed the hungry, restore justice, and transform the world. As a disciple of Jesus, you are the one too. How do you bless those in need?
In the Gospel for the Second Sunday of Advent, John the Baptist preaches repentance for sin. ” ‘Repent, for the kingdom of heaven is at hand’ It was of him that the prophet Isaiah had spoken when he said: A voice of one crying out in the desert, Prepare the way of the Lord, make straight his paths” (Matthew 3: 2-4). John the Baptist announces good news. His listeners are about to experience the presence of God in a powerful and new way. John prepares the way for Jesus, God with us. This good news gives hope to those who are struggling. With God, things will get better. John wants us to repent of our reliance on shopping, work, entertainment, and other things to save us from our troubles. Christians put their trust in God who accompanies them in their difficulties. How does God accompany you in times of trouble?