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  Word To Life

Sunday Scripture Readings, Dec. 22, 2013

By Jeff Hensley
Catholic News Service

December 22, 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

Though I don't recall Pope Francis using the term "dream" or "prophecy" to describe what he has been asking of the church, his statements often have that feel to them. He speaks prophetically, minus the old King James language: "Thus saith the Lord."

Two of the readings for this weekend speak of dreams and prophecies. Isaiah speaks in apparent anger when Ahaz refuses to ask God for a sign. Then Isaiah announces the coming of the Lord given as a sign: "The virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel."

In the Gospel, an angel appears to Joseph in a dream, telling him to not "be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. ... She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus." Then the angel tells Joseph that all this is "to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet: Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel, which means 'God is with us.'"

Contrast this with Paul's introduction to his Letter to the Romans. It is a straightforward statement of who Paul is, but more importantly, who Jesus is.

Most of what we know about the will of God for our lives comes in statements like this and in instructions about how we are to live. Such instructions come through sources as diverse as Micah's simple admonition to act justly and walk humbly with God and Jesus' teachings to put others first.

Pope Francis is asking all of us to be more active in reaching out to those who feel estranged from the church. He asks us to be mindful to the needs of the poor, and he doesn't mince words.

Personally, I know I can't do everything, but I also know that I can do something. Since I know that our God is a God who speaks to his people and expects their obedience, I'm determined to try to do the last thing I think God asked of me. He doesn't like for us to be inattentive.


Is God asking you to reach out to others in invitation or charity?


"Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel." -- Matthew 1:23


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