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  Word To Life


Sunday Scripture Readings, Dec. 19, 2010

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service


December 19, Fourth Sunday of Advent

Cycle A Readings:

1) Isaiah 7:10-14

Psalm 24:1-6

2) Romans 1:1-7

Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

The theme of obedience to the revealed will of God runs through the Scriptures for this weekend, as we await with eagerness the birth of the Lord Jesus. In the first reading, God convincingly tells Ahaz to seek a sign from him. Instead, Ahaz replies, "I will not ask! I will not tempt the Lord!"

In response, the prophet Isaiah challenges his lack of sincerity, saying that God will bypass this king and give God's people a sign: "The virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel."

In the second reading, Paul speaks of Jesus, through whose "resurrection from the dead" he has "received the grace of apostleship, to bring about the obedience of faith."

Then in the Matthew reading, an angel appears to tell Joseph that Mary is pregnant with Jesus, "through the Holy Spirit," fulfilling Isaiah's prophecy of the birth of "Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us.'"

God commands our obedience in many ways, most notably through Scripture and the teachings of the church. Much turmoil in life can be avoided if we form our consciences by following God's word revealed in these two sources.

But God also speaks directly to our hearts. My wife reported to me that several times in recent weeks, a Scripture popped up on her smart phone, just as she was experiencing great anger, even though she had done nothing to cause the phone to tap into the daily Scripture application she uses.

I had a similar experience during a time of temptation some years ago when a Scripture from 1 Corinthians 10 popped up in the search engine on my computer, un-entered and un-copied from any other source.

My wife and I have both believed we have heard from God through our thoughts or Scriptures as we have read the Bible, but I cite these two little technological instances just to show God's versatility.

Such personal revelations, however, cannot be in conflict with the teachings of the church or Scripture. Then they would simply be end runs around what God desires as the perfect Christmas gift: our hearts of love and obedience to his Son, our Savior, the child whose birth we seek.

QUESTIONS:

When have you had to rely on your knowledge of Scripture to "make the right choice"? What spiritual reading can you do to help properly form your conscience and provide a source of strength in times of stress and temptation?

SCRIPTURE TO BE ILLUSTRATED:

"When Joseph awoke, he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him and took his wife into his home" (Matthew 1:24).

END



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