Fr Thomas’ Homily for the 4th Sunday of Advent

Wrapped Gift of Christmas

Christmas gifts are wrapped to make it a surprise to the children.  Not knowing what is in it, the mystery, until it is unwrapped adds to the joy of receiving a gift.  There is a man in the Bible who received a great wonderful gift from God but shrouded in mystery. Matthew’s Gospel tells us how a great mystery gift was unwrapped before Joseph.

God was to incarnate through Mary, Joseph’s betrothed fiancé, a wonderful gift, beyond anyone’s imagination.  Mary already pregnant!  Pregnancy before living together made Joseph suspect infidelity from Mary’s part.  It looked as if a terrible disaster is awaiting their marriage.  But when Joseph allowed the messenger of God to unwrap the mystery, he could see that Mary’s pregnancy is not a cause for shame but a great gift of God.  It is the fulfilment of the prophecy about the “Immanuel”, God with us.  Mary conceiving a baby is God’s preparation to come down to be with us.  If he hadn’t allowed God’s word to reveal the mystery, he would not have realised that Mary was bearing the Son of God, a wonderful gift from God.

It is human to come across apparently shameful events in life.  Some of them may even look like bringing disaster in our lives.  In those situations, we may not realise that God is gifting us with himself.   Allowing the Word of God to reveal his presence with us is the best thing we can do.  When is the last time an apparent darkness in your life unfolded to be a great blessing?  Count the times when apparent failures turned out to be causes of great admiration in your life.  Through Jesus, our God is always with us.  By allowing the Word of God to interpret the lives, we can increase our awareness of God being alive with us.  “Immanuel”, God with us, is the theme of Matthew’s Gospel.  The Gospel ends with Jesus blessing the disciples and saying, “I will be with you always”.  Yes, our God is with us always, and knowing it we also know that every day is a Christmas for us.