4th Sunday of Advent Year A - 18/12/2022 - Gospel: Mt 1:18-24
Free Choice
'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you; I have appointed you as prophet to the nations' Jer. 1:5.

'I have branded you on the palms of my hands'. Is 49:16

Both the prophets, Jeremiah and Isaiah, revealed the mystery of each individual which is how and where we first come from. The prophets also tell us that we are born into this world for a purpose, and that purpose is to be a prophet to the nations. As a prophet, God expects each of us to be faithful to our vocation, and to do God's will to the best of our ability. The problem is that only a few people know exactly what their vocations are, such as John the Baptist, and Mary and Joseph, because these people are chosen for a specific task. Their lives are directly involved in carrying out God's plan of salvation. The rest of us struggle hard to find out about our vocation. Apart from the general universal call to pray for God's kingdom to come, and to give glory to God in our daily lives; we, as a prophet of God, depend on God to find out about our vocation in our daily lives. God has the full right to impose His will upon us; but chooses to respect our free will. To make God's will known to Mary and Joseph, God has prepared their lives, unknown to them, long before they were born. How can you prepare for something before it comes into existence? The prophet told us, God alone can do things beyond our comprehension, 'Before I formed you in the womb I knew you; before you came to birth I consecrated you'.

God sends His messenger to Mary and Joseph for consultation. And they have the freedom to chose. The account of the birth of Jesus records clearly the process of consultation. The angel comes to Mary and Joseph to announce God's will upon them. Even though; Mary, Joseph and John the Baptist had already been chosen, and well prepared for a special role in the history of salvation, and yet God consults them before God's plan is implemented. For them, the commitment to follow God's will is clear but what that involves is slowly being revealed. Mary would not have know that she would be a refugee after she agreed to be the mother of Jesus. Joseph would not have anticipated receiving much criticism and gossip from his family members and his friends. John the Baptist would not have imagined that he would be beheaded as a prophet of God. The lives of these people tell us that life is a journey and on that journey, we all struggle hard because we are having a journey into an unknown future. We place our trust in God for guidance step by step on the way. Before making a firm commitment, both Mary and Joseph asked God's messenger for clarification. They had been chosen for a specific task and yet it was hidden from their eyes. Before the calling, both Mary and Joseph were living like the rest of us, probing to do God's will. Their vocation became clearer after they had met God's messenger, but, even so; their vocation was not revealed in detail, but slowly unwrapped event after event.

Mary first said 'No' to being the mother of Jesus and then changed her mind to say 'Yes'. Joseph agreed to take Mary home to take care of her and then changed his mind to say, 'No'. Mary said 'No' because she could not understand the message and probably she felt unworthy of it. She changed her mind when God's messenger explained to her. Her 'Yes' demonstrated her total trust in God. Joseph believed Mary could be in grave danger and tried to save her. The law of the time allowed stoning to death any woman who conceived out of wedlock. Joseph tried to do something good out of his goodwill, and also by his own power, but God intervened, telling him that it is not him, but God who is in control. Joseph trusts that God, in his time and his own way, will take care of things and everything will work out as God has planned for him. We pray to have faith and trust in the Lord.