Reflection for the Fourth Sunday of Advent 2016


By Sr. Shawn Madigan, CSJ, Ph.D.

Distinguished Professor (Emerita) of Theology
St. Catherine University, St. Paul, Minnesota

‘God is with us.’

—Matthew 1:23

(Really? Yes, Really!)

Sr. Shawn Madigan, CSJ
Sr. Shawn Madigan, CSJ

It’s a familiar Sunday gospel. We hear it every year.
This Advent Sunday, “God’s with us” so don’t fear.

The story has a couple, faithful woman and loving man.
Their love includes a tension that neither one had planned.

Some angel then appears. The child is Godlike blessing.
The Spirit of God was there so no more worried guessing!

Well, Mary seemed at peace but Joseph’s love was confused it seems.
There’s a Law his love ignores. Then Joseph has his dreams!

I know how this story continues. Soon all the angels are singing
“Glory to God and peace to all” throughout the heavens ringing.

I don’t envy this season’s pageants with children living the parts.
Yet I live in a real world. It’s not easy to change human hearts.

Look at the homeless people, hungry children at food pantry doors,
A growing gap between rich and poor, hate causing so many wars!

Whole countries are disappearing! Just look at the daily destruction.
If “God is really with us,” where’s the good construction?

I know this sounds like Scrooge, with the Spirit of hope long gone.
Can I believe God’s with us ? Is God’s love continuing on?

Yes, Really!

Well, let’s start with angels, the kind that does not have wings.
Who do you love and who loves you as you celebrate “Christmas” things?

Who can still move your heart to become something more than you seem?
Aren’t these some angels who urge even your heart to dream?

Where are Mary and Joseph whose love changed their way of seeing?
They might be you whenever your love makes you a kind of new Be-ing.

Today’s story is not just for children to act out in their pageant years.
Today’s story is for adults who have lived through joys and tears.

Today is about God’s dream for you as it was and always will be.
Mary, Joseph, God’s story of love includes us all, you see.

Emmanuel, God is with us, in every age and nation.
YOU are God’s continuing story, a unique part of transformation.

Can you still hope God’s with us? That’s a message for today.
Are you becoming God’s dream? For that, let us all pray!

An Advent Prayer

O come Emmanuel. Open our hearts live the unique dream God has for us and for all! Amen. Come Lord Jesus!

More opportunities to celebrate the season of Advent at St. Norbert Abbey »

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