Advent Day 22 ~ The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ Joseph’s dream

a_fourthsundayofadvent-josephs-dreamThe Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ December 22, 2019

We’re quite used to hearing St. Luke’s version of the Annunciation story. But we’re in the A-cycle of readings this year that features the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew’s Annunciation story is less known, so I’ve placed the entire text here for us to look at, because it’s a bit convoluted for our western mindset. With the help of our Scripture-scholar William Barclay and Bishop Robert Barron, I’ll try to help unpack this for us.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place 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.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Here’s where the confusion lies.  

First, the text says that “Mary was betrothed to Joseph but before they were living together she was found with child.”  Then it says, “since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  Then after the angel makes his Announcement that Mary will bear a son and told him not to be afraid of taking Mary into his home.

 Barclay indicates that in Jewish marriage procedure there were three steps.

1) There was the engagement, which was often made when the couple were only children, usually through the parents or through a professional matchmaker.

2) There was the betrothal, or the ratification of the betrothal. Once the betrothal was entered into it was absolutely binding. It lasted for one year. During that year the couple were known as man and wife. It was at this stage that Mary and Joseph were. And Joseph wanted to end the betrothal, which could happen in no other way than by divorce.  Mary was legally known as his wife during that year.  

3) The third stage was the marriage proper.  (Barclay/ The Gospel of Matthew – Volume 1 p.18.

Now let’s take a deeper look at the meaning of Matthew’s Annunciation story.

Bishop Robert Baron offers a beautiful commentary for us . . . .

When Moses asked God for his name, the Lord obscurely responds  “I am who am.”  Hebrew scholars tells us that the root sense of the [Hebrew word] is ” I will be with you.” God identifies himself as the one who had pledged his solidarity with his suffering people Israel.  

Writing during a time of particular trial in the history of the chosen people God will send a sign:

The virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,

which carries the sense that God is with us.  

And as he wrestles with the terrible dilemma of what to do with his betrothed who had become pregnant, Joseph dreams of an angel who tells him to take Mary as his wife.

She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”  

God’s truest name and most distinctive quality is he will be with us. In good times and in bad, during periods of light and darkness, when we are rejoicing or grieving, God is stubbornly with us, EMMANUEL!  

And here’s one more thought for you about our dear St. Joseph . . . .

When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home. 

The word awoke has the greater meaning of “to arise, to get up.”  Gospel awakening / arising marks the beginning of a graced, personal transformation. One is struck by the rapid succession of these five verbs [he rosehe did, he took, he did not know, he called], indicating a sense of swiftness in everything Joseph did following his dream.

Joseph is the obedient man of action whose every move is attentive to the will of God.

He is the man called upon to love, cherish, nurture and protect the Mother and the Child while at the same time having to accomplish a profound renunciation of natural instincts.    

His vocation is to be the visible fatherhood of God on earth. 

O dear St. Joseph,  

My own dad was silent and hard-working too.

And I seldom think of you or pray to you, St. Joseph,

but I’ve come to love you even more

while preparing this blog.

What a wonderful story St. Matthew weaves for us!

Help us, then, prepare for Jesus’ coming into our hearts.

And help me to be more like you. 

Strong. Silent. Caring. Always there.  

Thank you for what I’ve learned about you today. 

What a grace! 

And what about you, dear friends?

What do you take away from this story?

We only have two more days to prepare our hearts to receive our Lord and Savior.  

Are you ready?   

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here. 

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer 

Bishop Robert Baron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and a regular contributor to the Magnificat  monthly liturgical magazine from which this article was selected for December 18th. p. 266

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ The power of visiting a friend

The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ December 23, 2018

Today’s Gospel story is a beautiful one. When the angel announced to Mary that she would conceive a child, she was given a way to confirm that message: to go visit her “kinswoman who has also conceived in her old age.” (Lk. 1:36)  . . . .

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

Our Scripture scholar friend William Barclay says, this story of Mary’s visit is “a kind of lyrical song on the blessedness of Mary. Nowhere can we see the paradox of blessedness than in her life. To Mary was granted the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. Well might her heart be filled with a wondering, tremulous joy at so great a privilege. Yet that very blessedness was to be a sword to pierce her heart. It meant that some day she would see her son hanging on a cross.

“To be chosen by God so often means at one and the same to me a crown of joy and a crown of sorrow. The truth is that God does not choose a person for ease and comfort and selfish joy but for a task. God chooses us to use us.”  (Barclay / Luke p. 17.)

I know. As many of you know, I have struggled with manic-depressive disorder that has affected my priestly ministry at points throughout my life. My priesthood has been a joy and a cross.

And now back to Mary and my prayer to her this Sunday . . . .

Dearest Lady,

what courage you had for a young girl!

You travelled to visit Elizabeth;

they said she was your cousin.

What did you want to know?

But you found a surprise, didn’t you?

The baby in Elizabeth’s womb leaped for joy.

There was your confirmation.

Mary, so often we need, confirmation

for the decision we have to make.

You believed that the word that was spoken

to you would be fulfilled.

Mary, Jesus, help us to have that kind faith,

that kind of trust.

I praise and thank you, dear Lady

for bringing Love into our world.

And now before you go, here’s the ancient Christmas carol “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming” with a slide show. Click here. 

And here are all of today’s Mass readings. Click here.

And before we go, I’d like to call your attention that the Winter Solstice will arrive on Friday, December 2ist in the northern hemisphere at 5:23pm. Did you know that the Church chose the date of Christmas to coincide with it?  Remember what John the Baptist said? “He must increase; I must decrease.”  The Winter Solstice marks the shortest day of the year and the sun begins it’s ascendency again. The Summer Solstice is near the time of the birthday of John the Baptist (June 24th) when the sun begins on it’s waning path again in northern hemisphere. How ’bout ‘dat?

Acknowledgment: William Barclay / The New Daily Study Bible / The Gospel of Luke

Westminster  John Knox Press / Louisville KY / 1975, 2001

With Love, 

Bob Traupman 

Contemplative Writer

 

The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ Joseph’s dream

a_fourthsundayofadvent-josephs-dreamThe Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ December 18, 2016

We’re quite used to hearing St. Luke’s version of the Annunciation story. But we’re in the A-cycle of readings this year that features the Gospel of Matthew.

Matthew’s Annunciation story is less known, so I’ve placed the entire text here for us to look at, because it’s a bit convoluted for our western mindset. With the help of our Scripture-scholar William Barclay and others, I’ll try to help us unpack this for us.

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home.
For it is through the Holy Spirit
that this child has been conceived in her.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”
All this took place 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.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Here’s where the confusion lies.  

 First, the text says that “Mary was betrothed to Joseph but before they were living together she was found with child.”  Then it says, “since he was a righteous man, yet unwilling to expose her to shame, decided to divorce her quietly.  Then after the angel makes his Announcement that Mary will bear a son and told him not to be afraid of taking Mary into his home.

 Barclay indicates that in Jewish marriage procedure there were three steps.

1) There was the engagement, which was often made when the couple were only children, usually through the parents or through a professional matchmaker.

2) There was the betrothal, or the ratification of the betrothal. Once the betrothal was entered into it was absolutely binding. It lasted for one year. During that year the couple were known as man and wife. It was at this stage that Mary and Joseph were. And Joseph wanted to end the betrothal, which could happen in no other way than by divorce.  Mary was legally known as his wife during that year.  

3) The third stage was the marriage proper.  

                                        Barclay/ The Gospel of Matthew – Volume 1 p.18

Now let’s take a deeper look at the meaning of Matthew’s Annunciation story.

Bishop Robert Baron offers a beautiful commentary for us . . . .

When Moses asked God for his name, the Lord enigmatically responds  I am who am.  Hebrew scholars tells us that the root sense of the [Hebrew word] is ” I will be with you.” God identifies himself as the one who had pledged his solidarity with his suffering people Israel.  

Writing during a time of particular trial in the history of the chosen people God will send a sign:

The virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel,

which carries the sense that God is with us.  

And has he wrestles with the terrible dilemma of what to do with his betrothed who had become pregnant, Joseph dreams of an angel who tells him to take Mary as his wife.

She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins.”  

God’s truest name and most distinctive quality is he will be with us. In good times and in bad, during periods of light and darkness, when we are rejoicing or grieving, God is stubbornly with us, EMMANUEL!  

And here’s one more thought for you about our dear St. Joseph . . . .

When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home. 

The word awoke has the greater meaning of “to arise, to get up.”  Gospel awakening / arising marks the beginning of a graced, personal transformation. One is struck by the rapid succession of these five verbs [he rosehe did, he took, he did not know, he called], indicating a sense of swiftness in everything Joseph did following his dream.

Joseph is the obedient man of action whose every move is attentive to the will of God.

He is the man called upon to love, cherish, nurture and protect the Mother and the Child while at the same time having to accomplish a profound renunciation of natural instincts.    

His vocation is to be the visible fatherhood of God on earth. 

O dear St. Joseph,  

how I’ve come to love you even more

in the four hours writing this blog.

Tears are forming in my eyes.

I seldom think of you or pray to you, dear St. Joseph.

What a wonderful story St. Matthew weaves for us!

Help us, then, prepare for Jesus coming into our hearts.

And help me to be more like you. 

Strong. Silent. Caring. Always there.  

Thank you for what I’ve learned tonight in these wee hours.  

What a grace! 

And what about you, dear friends?

What do you take away from this story?

We only have five more days to prepare our hearts to receive our Lord and Savior.  

Are you ready?

And now before you go, here’s the great Advent hymn, O Come, O Come Emmanuel. Click here.   

And here are today’s Mass readings. Click here.  

With love, 

Bob Traupman

contemplative writer 

Bishop Robert Baron is an auxiliary bishop of the Archdiocese of Los Angeles and a regular contributor to the Magnificat  monthly liturgical magazine from which this article was selected for December 18th. p. 266

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Fourth Sunday of Advent ~ The power of visiting a friend

champaigne_visitationTHE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT

Today’s Gospel story is a beautiful one. When the angel announced to Mary that she would conceive a child, she was given a way to confirm that message: to go visit her “kinswoman who has also conceived in her old age.” (Lk. 1:36)  . . . .

Mary set out
and traveled to the hill country in haste
to a town of Judah,
where she entered the house of Zechariah
and greeted Elizabeth.
When Elizabeth heard Mary’s greeting,
the infant leaped in her womb,
and Elizabeth, filled with the Holy Spirit,
cried out in a loud voice and said,
“Blessed are you among women,
and blessed is the fruit of your womb.
And how does this happen to me,
that the mother of my Lord should come to me?
For at the moment the sound of your greeting reached my ears,
the infant in my womb leaped for joy.
Blessed are you who believed
that what was spoken to you by the Lord
would be fulfilled.”

Our Scripture scholar friend William Barclay says, this story of Mary’s visit is “a kind of lyrical song on the blessedness of Mary. Nowhere can we see the paradox of blessedness than in her life. To Mary was granted the blessedness of being the mother of the Son of God. Well might her heart be filled with a wondering, tremulous joy at so great a privilege. Yet that very blessedness was to be a sword to pierce her heart. It meant that some day she would see her son hanging on a cross.

“To be chosen by God so often means at one and the same to me a crown of joy and a crown of sorrow. The truth is that God does not choose a person for ease and comfort and selfish joy but for a task. God chooses us to use us.”  (Barclay / Luke p. 17.)

I know. When I was a young priest I threw myself into my work helping our new diocese develop the good liturgy, faithful to the guidelines of Constitution on the Liturgy that just given us the “New Mass.” This was the early Seventies. I was enthusiastic about this work. I was initially happy. But it became overwhelming for me. I became a workaholic and then an alcoholic. And in a few years, in 1978, I had a breakdown, eventually diagnosed with manic-depressive disorder that brought limitations to my priesthood that at times have been difficult to accept.

The prayer of Reinhold Neihbuhr and Alcoholics Anonymous is still by far the best prayer and advice in this regard:

God, grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change,

the courage to change the things I can,

and the wisdom to know the difference.

And now back to Mary and my prayer to her this Sunday . . . .

Dearest Lady,

what courage you had for a young girl!

You travelled to visit Elizabeth;

they said she was your cousin.

What did you want to know?

But you found a surprise, didn’t you?

They baby in her womb leaped for joy.

There was your confirmation.

Mary, so often I need, I want confirmation

for the decision I have to make.

You believed that the word that was spoken

to you would be fulfilled.

Mary, Jesus, help to have that kind faith,

that kind of trust.

I praise and thank you, dear Lady

for bringing Love into our world.

And now before you go, here’s the ancient Christmas carol “Lo, how a rose e’er blooming” with a slide show. Click here. 

And here are all of today’s Mass readings. Click here. 

Acknowledgment: William Barclay / The New Daily Study Bible / The Gospel of Luke

Westminster  John Knox Press / Louisville KY / 1975, 2001

With Love, 

Bob Traupman 

Contemplative Writer

 

ADVENT DAY 23 — OUR VULNERABLE GOD

                    Our Lady breast feeding Jesus — Shrine of our Lady of La Leche
                                                   — St. Augustine, Florida

THE FOURTH SUNDAY OF ADVENT 

 (YOU CAN FIND THE MASS READINGS FOR TODAY AT A LINK AT THE BOTTOM OF THE PAGE.)

LUKE TELLS US THE CHARMING STORY THAT GOD BECAME INCARNATE — ENFLESHED — AS A LITTLE VULNERABLE BABY BOY.

IT’S AMAZING TO REALLY THINK ABOUT THAT.

EVEN IF YOU’RE NOT READY TO ACCEPT THE STORY AS TRUE, THE MEANING OF THAT STORY CAN REALLY GRAB YOU IF YOU LET IT.

BUT, SADLY, SO MANY OF US CELEBRATE CHRISTMAS ALL OUR LIVES WITHOUT REALLY REFLECTING ON THE IMPLICATIONS OF THE STORY FOR OUR LIVES.

JESUS WAS NOT ONLY VULNERABLE IN HIS BIRTH, BUT ALSO IN HIS DEATH.

HE CHOSE TO STAND BEFORE PILATE, BOUND, SCOURGED AND SILENT.

HE CHOSE TO SAY NOTHING OR DO ANYTHING IN HIS DEFENSE.

VULNERABLE INDEED.

WHAT’S THE MESSAGE HERE?

ST. PAUL GIVES US A CLUE:

“WHEN I AM POWERLESS THEN I AM STRONG”                                                                                                                                                            ~ (2 COR 12:9-10.)

HOW CAN THAT BE?

I THINK ABOUT THAT A LOT BECAUSE I AM POWERLESS A LOT WHEN I’VE HAD TO DEAL WITH DEPRESSION.

THERE WERE DAYS I COULD NOT GET OUT OF MY CHAIR.  I SPENT OVER A YEAR INSTITUTIONALIZED BECAUSE OF MY BIPOLAR ILLNESS OVER THE YEARS.

YES, I LEARNED THE MEANING OF PAUL’S WORDS, “WHEN I AM POWERLESS, THEN I AM STRONG.”  I HAD TO.  FOR MY SURVIVAL’S SAKE.

AND AS A RESULT, I BEGAN TO THRIVE.  HOW?   BECAUSE I FOUND THE SECRET.  I FOUND THE SOURCE  OF  POWER  IN CENTERING PRAYER IN THE CORE OF MY BEING ~ EMMANUEL: GOD~WITHIN~US!

JESUS IS SHOWING US HIS OWN VULNERABILITY AS A BABY AND IN HIS DEATH: 

“HE EMPTIED HIMSELF”  (PHIL 2:1-11)

AND IN OUR WEAKNESSES,

IN OUR POVERTY OF SPIRIT,

IN THE BROKENNESS OF OUR LIVES

WE WILL FIND GOD.

JESUS,

YOU CAME INTO THIS WORLD AS A LITTLE CHILD,

AS NEEDY AS ANY OTHER BABY.

YOU SUCKLED AT MARY’S BREAST 

AND RECEIVED YOUR NOURISHMENT AS GOD FROM A HUMAN MOTHER.

YOU BECAME ONE OF US AND WITH US.

YOU ACCEPTED OUR FLESHINESS,

~ OUR MISERY, OUR JOYS AND SORROWS.

YOU CAME DOWN TO OUR LEVEL TO RAISE US UP TO THE DIGNITY OF GOD.

THANK YOU, JESUS!

COME INTO OUR WORLD THIS DAY.

TEACH US TO ACCEPT OUR OWN VULNERABILITY AS SOMETHING POSITIVE.

TEACH US TO RECOGNIZE YOUR FACE IN THE MOST VULNERABLE AMONG US

FOR THEY CAN BE OUR MOST RADICAL SPIRITUAL TEACHERS.

THEY KNOW. THEY UNDERSTAND.

HELP US UNDERSTAND TOO, LORD.  HELP US TO TRULY UNDERSTAND

~ THAT VULNERABILITY AND POWERLESSNESS ARE VERY GOOD TEACHERS.

I THANK YOU, LORD.

COME, LORD JESUS!  COME INTO OUR HEARTS THIS DAY.

 

NOW, BEFORE YOU GO, HERE’S ANOTHER YOUTUBE VIDEO FROM HANDEL’S MESSIAH ~ UNTO US A CHILD IS BORN, PERFORMED BY THE MIGHTY MORMON TABERNACLE CHOIR. BE PREPARED TO BE INSPIRED.

 CLICK HERE BE SURE TO TURN UP YOUR SPEAKERS AND ENTER FULL SCREEN.    

HERE ARE THE MASS READINGS.  CLICK HERE. 

WITH LOVE, 

BOB TRAUPMAN 

CONTEMPLATIVE WRITER