And THIS IS WHY we have a Christmas Day – 4th Sunday of Advent – Isaiah 7:10-14/ Matthew 1:18-24
The Gospel of today practically tells you the Christmas story except of course for that one verse which says that Jesus was born. It you read the infancy narrative in the Gospel of Matthew you will begin to feel a bit lost if not cheated. There is no manger, no shepherds, no long journey to Bethlehem, no angels proclaiming glory to God, no cows or sheep or donkey. Yes, it does mention the wise men but it also mentions the despot Herod who wanted to kill Jesus and then killed the children in and around Bethlehem and then mentions the flight in Egypt. All in all, there is no sparkle or tinsel to this Christmas story in the Gospel of Matthew. So, what’s the point in proclaiming this Gospel at all so close to Christmas?
Matthew had one purpose and one purpose only, to proclaim the fulfilment of the promises of God. The narrative took place in fulfilment of the promises that were spoken by the Lord through the prophet, “Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means God is with us.”
God keeps his promises even if they are not tied in beautiful bows and delivered on a one-horse open sleigh. That’s the point of today’s Gospel; God is faithful. Interestingly, the way he works in our lives is often strange and even scandalous. Here is a narrative of an unwed mother, a reluctant fiancé who now wants to divorce his to be wife, a rather pushy angel that wants to communicate the will of God.
God communicates to us that if his own son’s birth could be fulfilled when everything seemed impossible then how much more will he deliver in our lives when we think all is lost? That is the Christmas miracle, that is the Christmas story and that is the Christmas promise. God always keeps his promise because God loves us.
What is it that seems lost to you today? What is it that you think God has bailed out on you? What is it that you are struggling with, gasping for breath as you feel yourself being sucked underwater? There is a promise that we are reminded, “Look the virgin SHALL conceive.” There is no if and might and maybe. It is a firm promise. The virgin SHALL conceive so that God will forever be with us; Emmanuel.
While the Gospel of Luke will focus on the big yes of Mary, the Gospel of Matthew will tell us of the silent acceptance of God’s will in Joseph’s life. The poor chap does not a spoken word recorded in the Gospel of Matthew. His name appears seven times in the entire Christmas narrative but his voice is not heard once. He certainly had doubts and perhaps negative thoughts and even wanted to divorce Mary but was told to do the will of God. His obedience is recorded in one line, “when he awoke from his sleep, he did a s the angel of the Lord commanded him” and this was not the only time he was spoken to in a dream.