The Fourth Sunday of Advent
                                                                                    December 18, 2022

                                                                                                                        Fr. José Maria de Sousa Alvim Calado Cortes, F.S.C.B.
                                                                                                                                                                           Pastor of the Church of St. Peter
                                                                                                                                                                                North St. Paul, Minnesota

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We are so close to Christmas!  In today's Gospel, the Archangel Gabriel ells St. Joseph: "Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us'" (Mt 1:23).  We are about to celebrate the presence of God with us.  There are important questions to consider.  How is God going to be with us?  Why does God need to be with us?

Our Lord traveled a long path before he dwelt among us.  He needed a series of people.  Actually, it is not correct to say that God "needs."  He does not "need" anything. He can d whatever he wants.  However, he particularly wants to need human beings.  He needs our collaboration because he is coming to share his life with us.

God comes to us through people.

He needed Mary's 'yes" to enter the world.  Nevertheless, before her, with her and after her, he needed and still needs men and women who respond to his requests affirmatively.  Mary's acceptance is unique.  Nevertheless, her "yes" is also the center of a constellation, a galaxy of "yeses."

God needed Abraham, all the prophets, King David, and generations and generations of believers awaiting the coming of the Messiah.  He needed John the Baptist and, as we heard in today's Gospel, he needed Joseph.

St. Joseph shows us how to collaborate in God's work. He helps us understand what must be done for the Lord to become a presence in this world.

Joseph had a fiancée whom he loved and work he enjoyed.  He had projects, like any other human being.  He waned to marry, build a family and be happy, to have a quiet and simple life.

However, God wanted to include Joseph in a greater project, an infinite project!  That scared him.  He wanted to give up.  Joseph was frightened.  He could never have imagined what was happening!  All the things he had dreamed of were put aside.  Joseph felt unworthy of such a mission.  He wanted to return to a normal life.

However, "...the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said: 'Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid'" (Mt 1:20).  Joseph's answer to the angel was a decisive "yes," like that of his bride.  More important than his personal projects were those of God, Mary and the coming child.  Joseph had a unique way of participating in the "yes" of Mary.  Joseph and Mary's "Yes" to the will of God was the most profound reason for their union.  Their "yes" is an extraordinary example for all couples!

What contribution did Joseph make to Our Lord's entrance into the world?  It was his acceptance of god's will, the sacrifice of his finite projects for the infinite divine design.

There is no other way for our Lord to come to us except for us to say our "yes" with trust and joy.

Today's world needs God.  It does not need an idea of God.  It needs his presence.  It needs witnesses.  Today's world needs people who say "yes" to the Lord's will without fear.  Today's world needs you and me.

"God is with us."  St. Joseph, help us respond generously to whatever God asks of us.  May we contribute to his coming to dwell among us.  Amen.