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Fourth Sunday of Advent
Fourth Sunday of Advent
Two things to mention from today's Gospel. First about the man chosen to be the guardian of our Blessed Lord, the man who is Patron of Our Parish, St. Joseph.
How shocked and upset he must have been to discover that the woman he loved, the woman to whom he was betrothed had apparently betrayed him and been unfaithful. And yet his response was not anger or recrimination or self pity, rather he was honourable, decisive and merciful. He will not expose the woman who betrayed him to public shame or disgrace, he decides quietly to separate, to call the marriage off, and in the midst of all this he remains a man of prayer and faith, able to hear and act on the word of God when it comes to him in a dream.
What wonderful virtues for us men of the parish to aspire to, pray for and exercise: To be men of decision, men of honour, men of mercy and men of prayer.
Virginity of Mary
The second thing is the Virginity of Mary. While the pagans and Jews dismissed it as a nonsense, while scientists (at least until recent discoveries in genetics and cloning), dismissed it as impossible, while feminists derided it as wish fulfilment and scripture scholars said its not meant literally, the Church has continued to teach that Mary was and remained a Virgin. It is prophesied in the Old Testament, recorded in the Gospels, taught for two thousand years and proclaimed at Holy Mass each day.
No intelligent Catholic can have a problem with the fact of this truth. If God can create the whole universe out of nothing could he not create one child in its mother's womb? But it is good to ask ourselves why it is so, what does it teach us? All teaching expresses and illuminates part of the whole truth revealed by Jesus and this teaching illuminates in 3 things in particular. Who Jesus is, what Jesus is and how we respond in faith to Jesus.
Truths about Jesus revealed by Mary's virginity
It illumines who Jesus is because it makes it clear that Jesus, unlike us, does not simply begin his life when he is conceived. Jesus exists from all time, always the 2nd Person of the Blessed Trinity, always the Son of the Father. He takes his human body and human nature from Mary his Mother but he is still and always has been the Son of God the Father. St. Joseph is not his Father.
The miracle of Mary's virginity illumines what Jesus is by making it clear that the conception of Jesus, his becoming man is totally the work of God, Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Salvation in Jesus Christ comes not by the will of man or the act of man but by a loving act of God. Salvation is God's work not ours.
Finally the Virginity of Mary illuminates our response of faith. Mary's virginity is a sign of complete faithful dedication to God, Mary called herself "the handmaid of the Lord" it was this dedication that enabled her to say "let it be done unto me according to thy word". The miracle of Mary's virginity reveals the fruitfulness that comes from a poverty which desires to possesses nothing except God which allows God alone to direct our lives.
Finally do not forget or underestimate the value, even in a culture which scoffs at it, of virginity. Whether publicly professed in the religious or the consecrated life or lived privately in the midst of the world a life of virginity shares spiritually in the continuing work of the Virgin Mary to illumine the mystery of our Salvation and of Our Saviour whose birth we celebrate next Sunday.