The following reflection is courtesy of Don Schwager (c) 2014, whose website is located at DailyScripture.net
Do you hold on to the promises of God at all times, especially when you are faced with uncertainty or adversity? The prophets Jeremiah and Isaiah spoke words of hope in a hopeless situation for Israel. The Davidic dynasty was corrupt and unfit for a Messianic King. Apostates like King Ahaz (2 Kings 16) and weaklings like Zedekiah (Jeremiah 38) occupied the throne of David. How could God be faithful to his promise to raise up a righteous King who would rule forever over the house of David? The prophets trusted that God could somehow raise up a righteous shoot from the stump of Jesse (Isaiah 2:11). Like the prophets we are called in hope to believe against hope (Romans 4:18) that God can and will fulfill all his promises.
Mary was found to be with child of the Holy Spirit
Mary had to face an enormous challenge to her faith and trust in God and to the faith of her family and Joseph, the man she chose to marry. She was asked to assume a burden of tremendous responsibility. It had never been heard of before that a child could be born without a natural father. Mary was asked to accept this miraculous exception to the laws of nature. That required faith and trust in God and in his promises. Second, Mary was not yet married. Pregnancy outside of wedlock was not tolerated in those days. Mary was only espoused to Joseph, and such an engagement had to last for a whole year. She was asked to assume a great risk. She could have been rejected by Joseph, by her family, by all her own people. Mary knew that Joseph and her family would not understand without revelation from God. She nonetheless believed and trusted in God’s promises.
Joseph believed the angel’s message “that which is conceived in her is of the Holy Spirit”
Joseph, a just and God-fearing man, did not wish to embarrass or punish his espoused wife, Mary when he discovered that she was pregnant. To all appearances she had broken their solemn pledge to be faithful and chaste to one another. Joseph, no doubt took this troubling matter to God in prayer. He was not hasty to judge or to react with hurt and anger. God rewarded him not only with guidance and consolation, but with the divine assurance that he had indeed called Joseph to be the husband of Mary and to assume a mission that would require the utmost faith, confidence, and trust in Almighty God. Joseph believed in the divine message to take Mary as his wife and to accept the child in her womb as the promised Messiah.
A model of faith for us
Like Mary, Joseph is a model of faith for us. He is a faithful witness and servant of God’s unfolding plan of redemption. Are you ready to believe in the promises of God, even when faced with perplexing circumstances and what seems like insurmountable problems? God has not left us alone, but has brought us his only begotten Son, our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Let us celebrate Christmas, the feast of the Incarnation, with joyful hearts and let us renew our faith and hope in God and in his redeeming work.
“Lord Jesus, you came to save us from sin and the power of death. May I always rejoice in your salvation and trust in your divine plan for my life.”
The following reflection is courtesy of PresentationMinistries.com (c) 2014. Their website is located at PresentationMinistries.com
ACCEPT FOR CHRISTMAS
“Joseph her husband, an upright man unwilling to expose her to the law, decided to divorce her quietly.” Matthew 1:19
Joseph planned to divorce Mary and, therefore, Jesus. This Christmas, we also may be tempted to divorce Jesus indirectly, and thereby miss out on Christmas. Throughout history, there have been more innkeepers and Herods at Christmas than wise men and shepherds. Even now, few are at the side of Jesus in the manger. Most of the world continues to ignore the Christ of Christmas.
Joseph would have rejected Jesus if he had not made a super act of faith and accepted Mary as his wife under overwhelming circumstances. Often for us, the key to Christmas is to have the faith, like Joseph, to accept a spouse, parent, child, brother, or sister in the Lord under difficult circumstances. The Lord commands us: “Accept one another, then, as Christ accepted you, for the glory of God” (Rm 15:7).
To meet Jesus this Christmas, accept:
those you don’t understand,
those who don’t accept you,
family members who continue to hurt you,
and forgive everyone who has ever hurt you,
and correct in love some of those who have hurt you, and
everyone where they are and lead them to where God wants them to be.
To meet Christ this Christmas, be like Christ Who has always kept His promise: “No one who comes will I ever reject” (Jn 6:37).
Prayer: Father, thank You for accepting and convicting me by the Spirit (Jn 16:8). Promise: “In His days Judah shall be saved, Israel shall dwell in security.” Jer 23:6 Praise: “O sacred Lord of ancient Israel, Who showed Yourself to Moses in the burning bush, Who gave him the holy law on Sinai mountain: come, stretch out Your mighty hand to set us free.”
Rescript: In accord with the Code of Canon Law, I hereby grant my permission to publish One Bread, One Body covering the period from December 1, 2014 through January 31, 2015.
Most Reverend Joseph R. Binzer, Auxiliary Bishop, Vicar General of the Archdiocese of Cincinnati, June 30, 2014.
The rescript is a declaration that a book or pamphlet is considered to be free of doctrinal or moral error. It is not implied that those who have granted ecclesial permission agree with the contents, opinions, or statements