We are now in the holy season of Advent where we prepare for both the coming of Christ at Christmas and the second coming at the end of time. It is a spiritual period in which to meditate on these two mysteries and prepare for them. We use the wreath and 4 candles to mark down the 4 weeks before Christmas.
Three of the candles are purple and one is pink. The purple symbolizes preparation through penance and prayer. Purple is also used during Lent. Another way to see it is purple is a physical sign of healing. When we get hurt, the injury becomes purple. During the time of healing, it remains purple until it clears up. Sin hurts us and we need time to heal from it by using the Sacraments of Penance and Eucharist, Prayer, Fasting, Indulgences and a genuine Spiritual life.
The pink is for the third Sunday or Gaudete Sunday which means “Sunday of Joy.” We are joyous because we are getting closer to Christ’s birth. As each week goes, we light the candle that corresponds to that week.
Please help me expand and maintain this evangelization work. Not too many are donating and I may have to start cutting down some things after Christmas. Your help is truly needed. Please donate at www.gofundme.com/sacerdotus on via Pay Pal found on this site.
The first reading tells us of the prophesy of Christ's coming. A virgin will conceive and bear a son, we are told. This son shall be named Emmanuel which means "God among us." We do not need to have a doctorate in theology or scripture to know who is this Virgin and who is this Son. The prophecy is referring to Mary and Jesus as we will learn in the Gospel today. Christ was promised to the people of Israel and to all of humanity since the beginning of creation (Genesis 3:15, Deuteronomy 18:18). As Christmas approaches, we must let the Lord enter as king into our lives as we recite in the responsorial Psalm for today. The earth belongs to God and all who dwell in her. God created all things (Colossians 1:16). The rivers, seas, mountain, planets and so on. We must receive the Lord and be sinless in His sight. Our hearts must be clean, free from envy, jealousy, sexual lusts, greed and hate (Galatians 5:13). God will bless us if we live in His love, mercy and humility.
We must be "slaves" of Christ as St. Paul described himself. This servitude is not one that brings weariness and abuse as in the slavery we learn about in school. This slavery is true devotion to Christ that shows that our entire being belongs to Him (1 Peter 2:16). It must not be us who live, but Christ who lives in each of us (Galatians 2:20). All are called to be part of Christ, Jew and Gentile. Jesus came for all (John 3:16). Today's Gospel is linked to the first reading. Jesus was born to a virgin betrothed to a man named Joseph. She conceived via the power of the Holy Spirit. Joseph was a righteous man and thought Mary was unfaithful. Since he was righteous, he followed the law which called for men to expose women who were not faithful. These women would face dire consequences (Deuteronomy 22:22, Leviticus 20:10, Leviticus 21:9). Instead, Joseph was going to divorce her quietly per Moses' law (Deuteronomy 24). God never endorsed divorce (Malachi 2:16). However, an angel appeared to him in a dream telling him what was really going on. Mary did not play Joseph dirty, so to speak. The angel explained that the child comes from the Holy Spirit, not another man. The angel proceeds to tell Joseph that this child must be named Jesus and reminds him of the prophesy we read about in the first reading regarding the virgin conceiving a child who will be named Emmanuel. Joseph woke up and understood clearly what was going on and fulfilled his duties to Mary and Jesus by caring for them.
The readings today remind us of this history that actually happened. No serious scholar denies that Jesus, Mary and Joseph existed. What we celebrate on Christmas is historical fact. Mary is the most important woman ever. Without her, we would not have Jesus. Mary is our link to Jesus and Jesus is our link to the Blessed Trinity. This is why our Catholic Church has so much devotion to Mary. Joseph is not far behind. He is the protector of the Church just as he was the protector of Christ and Mary. As Christmas approaches, let us ask the Lord to be born in our hearts. Let us ask Mary to guide us to her son and Joseph to care for us. Jesus is Emmanuel. He is among us in the Holy Eucharist. Go visit Him and spend time with the Lord. May Jesus Christ be praised!
Here are reflections from holy writers:
While St. Joseph, yet uninformed of so great a mystery, wanted to put away Mary quietly, he was advised in a dream by an angel who said to him, "Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit." St. Joseph is made aware of the heavenly mystery, lest he think otherwise about Mary's virginity. He is also made aware of this that he might exclude the evil of suspicion and receive the good of the mystery.
The following words were said to him: "Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit," so he might acknowledge the integrity of his fiancée and the virgin birth. It was not appropriate for so great a mystery to be revealed to anyone other than Joseph, who was known to be Mary's fiancé, and no reproach of sin was attached to his name. In fact, Joseph translated from Hebrew into Latin means "beyond reproach."
Notice here too the order of a mystery: The devil first spoke to Eve the virgin long ago, and then to a man, that he might administer to them the word of death. In the latter case, a holy angel first spoke to Mary and then to Joseph, that he might reveal to them the word of life. In the former case, a woman was chosen unto sin; in the latter case, she was chosen unto salvation. In the former case, the man fell through the woman; in the latter case, he rose through the virgin. The angel therefore said to Joseph, "Do not be afraid, Joseph, son of David, to take to you Mary your wife, for that which is begotten in her is of the Holy Spirit."
— St. Chromatius
Source: "Tractate on Matthew, 2.3-4," Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 15.
Mary's ability to live by God's gaze, is so to speak, contagious. The first to experience this was St Joseph. His humble and sincere love for his betrothed and his decision to join his life to Mary's attracted and introduced him, "a just man", (Mt 1:19), to a special intimacy with God. Indeed, with Mary and later, especially, with Jesus, he began a new way of relating to God, accepting him in his life, entering his project of salvation and doing his will. After trustfully complying with the Angel's instructions "Do not fear to take Mary your wife" (Mt 1:20)—he took Mary to him and shared his life with her; he truly gave the whole of himself to Mary and to Jesus and this led him to perfect his response to the vocation he had received.
As we know, the Gospel has not recorded any of Joseph's words: his is a silent and faithful, patient and hard-working presence. We may imagine that he too, like his wife and in close harmony with her, lived the years of Jesus' childhood and adolescence savoring, as it were, his presence in their family.
— Pope Benedict XVI
Source: Audience at Paul VI Audience Hall, December 28, 2011," Benedict XVI, General Audiences of Benedict XVI (English) (Vatican City: Libreria Editrice Vaticana, 2013)
Why then do they not call him Emmanuel instead of Jesus Christ? Because the text says not "you shall call" but "his name shall be called." This means that the multitude and the outcome of the events themselves will cause him to be called Emmanuel. For here he puts the event as a name. This is customary in Scripture, to substitute names for the actual events. Therefore to say "they shall call him 'Emmanuel' " means nothing else than that they shall see God among us. Admittedly God has always been among us, but never before so openly.
— St. John Chrysostom
(344 - 407)
Source: "The Gospel of Matthew, Homily 5.2-3," Manlio Simonetti, ed., Matthew 1–13, Ancient Christian Commentary on Scripture (Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press, 2001), 18-19