Cycle (A) Advent 4th Sunday

Is 7:10-14; Rom 1:1-7; Mt 1:18-24
During today's First Reading (Is. 7:10-14), the Lord God spoke through the great prophet Isaiah. The Lord said to Ahaz, the son of Jotham who succeeded the eleventh king of Israel around 735 B.C., "Ask for a sign of
the Lord your God; let it be as far down as Hell or as far up as Heaven" (Is. 7:10-11). Ahaz answered, "I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test" (Is. 7:12).
In today's readings we have Ahaz who declared, "I will not put the Lord to the test" and St Joseph who literally obeyed what the Angel of the Lord commanded.
In the OT there are many instances where people doubted the promises of God and Put the Lord to the test.
In the wilderness, the people failed to trust God. As a result they rebel against God's plan for them to enter the land he promised to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob (Deut. 1:7-8). God had brought Israel out of slavery in Egypt, given the law at Mount Horeb (Sinai), and brought the people swiftly to the borders of the Promised Land (Deut 1:19-20). Even though Moses assures the people that God will fight for them just as he did in Egypt, they did not trust God to fulfil his promises (Deut 1:29-33).
Gideon Shied Away From God's Call. Gideon doubted that God could use him to do it. He tested God twice (challenging God to provide proof of his reliability through a series of miracles) before he would believe. God humoured him—and through Gideon, God lead the Israelites to victory (Judges 6:36).
Sarah and Abraham Laughed (Gen18:12) at God's Promise. Abraham and his wife Sarah are two of the most important figures in the Old Testament. Both followed God faithfully through a lifetime of challenges and trials. But they couldn't quite bring themselves to believe one promise God made to them: that they would give birth to a son in their old age. In fact, they both laughed at the prospect. Once their son Isaac was born, however, Abraham's trust in God had grown so great that he was willing even to sacrifice that promised son if God asked (Gen17:17-22, 18:10-15).
Today's Gospel reading gives the account of the Birth of Jesus. "The birth of Jesus took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly.

But just when he had resolved to do this, an Angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, "Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins." (Mt 1:20-21)
All this took place to fulfil what had been 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.' When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife" (Mt. 1:18-24).
The message that the readings convey to us is that "he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him."
Today the command of the Lord comes to us in various ways. But we have to reflect how many of us do as the Lord commands us.
In the history of the world there are many instances where group of people and individuals commit themselves for establishing justice that is the command of the Lord.
A few years ago, Environmental organizations and volunteers took it upon themselves to measure PM2.5 levels—particulate matter that's harmful in large quantities—throughout China. Starting in Beijing, residents measured the pollutants consistently, cataloguing their findings for scientists. The massive crowd sourcing effort pushed the Chinese government to pay attention to its growing air pollution problem. Moreover, the government agreed to publish the data publicly and promised to lower pollution levels by 2016.
In the same way, Local Chileans fought back against policies favouring Big Agriculture, making the case that they excluded small-scale farmers and could wipe out age-old farming practices. ANAMURI, a network of 10,000 female volunteers from rural and indigenous groups in Chile, led campaigns to inform the public and the government about the importance of native seeds and healthy farming practices. Their voices were heard. In March 2014, the government withdrew changes to the law that would harm the indigenous populations and their farming.
Today there are many things that the Lord commands us to do. And it is our duty to identity situations where our support is required. It may be in the life of any of the members of our family, our society or a total stranger. But the Lord wants us to be his messengers in this world carrying out his commands.
The Lord has come, the Lord is here, and the Lord is coming again. Let us be his messengers.