Fourth Sunday of Advent
December 22, 2019 – Year A
Readings: Is 7:10-14 / Ps 24 / Rom 1:1-7 / Mt 1:18-24
by Rev. Salvador Añonuevo, Pastor
A couple of weeks ago when I was in the Philippines preparing to fly back here to the US, the Philippine weather bureau had announced that a super typhoon was about to hit our island. This caused the airlines to cancel all of the flights. This super typhoon was probably the equivalent of a category 5 hurricane.
The most popular shelter there during the storms has always been the Catholic churches, because they are the biggest and the strongest buildings in the islands. Most of all, people feel safe there because, as we all believe, the Lord Jesus is present there in the church: Body, Blood, Soul, and Divinity in the Blessed Sacrament.
Today’s first reading from the book of the prophet Isaiah and the gospel taken from the first chapter of St. Matthew remind us that God is with us. In the last verse of the last chapter of St. Matthew’s gospel, the Lord Jesus promised, “Behold, I will be with you always, until the end of time.”
Several years ago, I was a pastor in a church right next to the Pacific Ocean on one of the islands in the Philippines. During the storms, I usually joined my parishioners and their families, including their dogs, cats, goats, pigs, and chickens, inside the church while waiting for the typhoon to pass. The happiest and most relaxed people during those times were the children. They were not worried at all, because their parents gave them an assurance that they would be safe inside God’s house. While I prayed with the adults, the children were all playing, singing, or even dancing.
While some of us may not have experience with severe storms, we all have been beset by hurricanes of problems, difficulties, and sickness, and we know that we need to have faith to retain our sanity. When we are in trouble, it would be great if we could spend time with the Lord in the Blessed Sacrament, but we should keep in mind that God is everywhere. He communicates with us in more ways than we could ever imagine.
A story is told about King Henry III of Bavaria, who lived in the eleventh century. At one point in his life, he became tired of his kingly duties and responsibilities, and he felt that he was being called by God to live a simpler and more spiritual life. So he made an application to Friar Richard to enter his monastery, hoping to become a contemplative monk. His wish was to be finally free of all worldly distractions and to focus on God and his spiritual life.
Friar Richard said to him, “Your majesty, do you understand that one of the vows here is that of obedience? That will be hard for you because you have been a king and you are used to giving and not receiving orders.” King Henry answered, “I do understand, and I promise that for the rest of my life I will be obedient to you as Christ leads you.” Friar Richard responded, “Well then, I will tell you what to do. Go back to your throne and serve faithfully and generously in the place where God has put you.” And King Henry III became a very good and holy king.
In today’s gospel, St Joseph followed God’s way during a family crisis. And the Lord God, through His words in the sacred scriptures, is telling us to do the same. As we go back to our homes after this Mass, let us ask the Lord to give us the strength to live the teachings of the Gospel, and as we continue to navigate the sea of life with its storms of trials and difficulties, may we always remind ourselves of God’s presence, for He is always with us.