Fourth Sunday of Advent: Isaiah 7:10-14; Romans 1:1-7; Matthew 1:18-24

Let us pray that our love for Jesus will not grow cold.

Isaiah looked ahead to the coming of ‘Immanuel’ – ‘God with us’ (Isaiah 7:14; Matthew 1:23). We look forward to the Second Coming of Immanuel: ‘Now the dwelling of God is with men, and he will live with them. They will be His people, and God Himself will be with them and be their God’ (Revelation 21:3). The Second Coming of our Lord Jesus Christ presents us with a challenge: ‘When the Son of man comes, will He find faith on earth?’ (Luke 18:8). He calls us to ‘stand firm in our faith’. We must not ‘shrink back ‘ from Him. We must ‘believe and be saved’ (Isaiah 7:9; Hebrews 10:37-39). Jesus says, ‘I am coming soon’. Let us pray, ‘Come, Lord Jesus’. Let us pray that our ‘love’ for Him will not ‘grow cold’. Let us pray for strength to ‘stand firm to the end and be saved’ (Revelation 22:7,12,20; Matthew 24:12-13).

Words of blessing, words of encouragement

“Good will and peace from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ be yours” (Romans 1:7). Here, there is an echo of the message of the angels at the time of Jesus’ birth (Luke 2:14). Thank God – His Good News was not only for there and then. It’s for here and now.

“I long to see you to share a spiritual blessing with you so that you will be strengthened. What I mean is  that we may be encouraged by each other’s faith” (Romans 1:11-12). Paul encouraged them. They encouraged him. Let us encourage one another.

We rejoice in the miracle and its saving purpose.

The birth of Christ is a fulfilment of prophecy: ‘The virgin will be with child and will give birth to a Son, and they will call Him Immanuel’ (Matthew 1:23; Isaiah 7:14). Christ is ‘God with us’. He was born through the power of the Holy Spirit  (Matthew 1:18,20). He is still ‘God with us’, when we are ‘born of the Spirit’ (John 3:5). Some people do not believe what the Bible says here. They do not like the idea of a ‘virgin birth’. The Bible gives no encouragement to such unbelief. Matthew simply says, ‘This is the way it happened’  (Matthew 1:18). In view of the amazing thing God was doing – sending His Son to be the Saviour of the world – why should we doubt that God took things out of man’s hands and worked in His own miraculous way? We rejoice not only in the miracle but also in its saving purpose: ‘He will save His people from their sins’ (Matthew 1:21).

These Bible readings are taken from the Catholic Lectionary – Year A.

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