Advent, 4th Sunday (A) When did God first prepare to give us Christmas? Tradition holds that the curse of the serpent in Genesis 3:14-15 is also a prophecy. A descendant of the first woman will one day destroy the power of the Devil.

God then promises King David that one of his descendants will have a kingdom forever. This son of David will also be a son of God (2 Samuel 7:8-17).

Ahaz, a descendant of King David, refuses to ask God for a sign. He is given a sign anyway, the sign of a virgin birth (Isaiah 7:10-14). The Messiah will defeat the Devil, establish a forever kingdom, be the son of God and born of a virgin.

But why does God send us a baby? We ask God for so many gifts, and instead of blessing us with peace or hope or any of those things, he offers us a baby. He wants to be Emmanuel, God with you. We shy away from letting God be with us because we either want to be in control or we are afraid that we are too much of a mess.

Mary and Joseph teach us to respond differently. Mary humbly accepts God's offer of relationship and she lets God take care of the details. One of the details is the fact that Mary happens to be married, and Joseph knows he didn't help make this baby. Joseph stands up and protects Mary and God's child. He is not afraid to take Mary and Jesus into his home.

We often ask for a sign of God's love for us. But we do have a sign: at every Catholic Mass, God becomes Emmanuel in the Eucharist. He is "God with us" in your local parish church. He wants to come live in your heart and in your home. This Christmas, do not be afraid to take Jesus into your home. Welcome a relationship with him, as Mary and Joseph did. Because all he wants for Christmas is you!

(18 Dec 2022)

Going Deeper: It is not fair to receive a gift if you are not willing to also give a gift. You cannot receive the gift of Jesus in Holy Communion unless you are willing to give yourself to him. Prepare yourself to welcome Jesus into your heart and home this Christmas.

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