Fourth Sunday of Advent
Meditation and Questions for Reflection or Group Discussion
(Isaiah 7:10-14; Psalm 24:1-6; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24)
View NAB Reading at USCCB.org
Sharing With Others the New Life We Have in Christ
She was found with child through the Holy Spirit. (Matthew 1:18)
For the first two months of a woman’s pregnancy, the new life forms in secret. But that all changes as she begins to show. The interior growth, once hidden, makes a gentle but clear announcement to the world—“I’m pregnant.”
Maybe it was around this time that Mary was found to be pregnant. Her child, conceived before she began living with Joseph, was now announcing himself to the world. There could be no mistake: Mary was pregnant. Having been put in a similar situation, many women may have tried to conceal their pregnancy. But all the signs from Scripture portray Mary as forthright about being pregnant. She let it show.
There’s a message for all of us here, because in a sense, we’re all “expecting.” According to St. Paul, a new life is forming within us: Christ in you, the hope for glory (Colossians 1:27). And this inner growth cannot remain hidden for too long. At some point, it must show!
Don’t be afraid to let the world see the change that has taken place within you. You have experienced Jesus’ peace, his love, his mercy, and his joy. So follow Mary’s example, and let it show! Let your attitude of joy and peace show to those around you at work so that they will begin to believe that they, too, can be changed. Share the kindness and generosity you’ve received from the Lord with your family members, and they’ll see the love of Christ within you. Be forthright about the reason for your joy. Don’t try to hide it.
Sure, there will be times when you feel self-conscious or even when you’re misunderstood. But you can be confident knowing that God is with you—“Emmanuel!” His glory will show through you, and he will never leave you.
“Thank you, Jesus, for the miracle of new life that you have begun in me. May your presence flow into every part of my life so that other people will hope in you as they encounter me.”
(Many thanks to The Word Among Us (www.wau.org) for allowing us to use meditations from their monthly devotional magazine. Used with permission. The Word Among Us Mass Edition contains all the readings and a meditation for each of the daily and Sunday Masses.)
Questions for Reflection/Discussion
- In the first reading, Ahaz’weak response to the Lord speaking to him reminds us that we too can take for granted the wonderful revelation of God’s love for us that we have in the coming of Jesus in the Incarnation. How would you describe your own response to this revelation? How would you describe the impact this revelation has had on your life?
- Isaiah’s prophecy also reminds us of the role of the Blessed Virgin in the events that have transformed our lives. In what way has her example of faith inspired your own response?
- In the responsorial psalm, the psalmist asks the questions: “Who shall ascend the hill of the Lord? And who shall stand in his holy place?” The answers the psalmist gives are very challenging and convicting: “Someone who has clean hands and a pure heart, who does not lift up their soul to what is false.” Are you challenged by these answers to the questions?
- We know that it is only Jesus’ sinlessness and clean heart, and his death on the cross for our sins, that allows us to be blessed by God. What steps can you and your family take to open yourself more to the graces that flow from the birth of our Savior and his subsequent work of salvation on the Cross?
- St. Paul tells us in the second reading that we are “God’s beloved.” Do you believe this? Why or why not? Reflect on a time in the past when you have experienced God’s love in a real way.
- The time has come at last for the prophecies to be fulfilled. In the Gospel, Joseph is presented with a monumental problem: his betrothed is with child. How do your own reactions to the unexpected mirror or contrast with Joseph’s quiet reflection and action?
- “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid,” the Angel of the Lord says to Joseph. Do you have fears regarding what God is asking in your life? What are they? How do you deal with them? Do you believe God wants to speak the same words of assurance to you that were spoken to Joseph? Why or why not?
- In the meditation, we hear these words: “According to St. Paul, a new life is forming within us: Christ in you, the hope for glory (Colossians 1:27). And this inner growth cannot remain hidden for too long. At some point, it must show!”The Lord Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us. During this grace-filled season, how can you reflect in a greater way this new life you have in Christ?
- Take some time now to pray for a greater experience of Jesus’ presence and love in your life, so that his life in you will be a blessing to others. Use the prayer at the end of the meditation as a starting point.