Godzdogz

Godzdogz

The blog of the Dominican student brothers at Blackfriars, Oxford.

Built on the four pillars of our Dominican life – preaching, prayer, study, and community – Godzdogz offers many resources for exploring the Catholic Faith today.
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Fourth Sunday of Advent

Sunday, December 18, 2016
As we rapidly approach the celebration of the Nativity of Our Lord, it is always helpful to be reminded of Who we are actually expecting.

St Paul tells us in his letter to the Romans that the Son of God took to Himself a human nature. This embeds Our Lord in our world, even though His origins are not of this world. God enters into physical contact with fallen humanity, though Himself taking a humanity untainted by sin. He comes to dwell among men, to teach, to die, and to rise and reign. He dwells not just in the sense of along and beside, but as one of us, sharing the same nature. 

And yet He was no mere human person. He adopted human nature freely; He did not need to, but out of Love did so. The divine and human intimately united but never confused in the person of Jesus. Truly God from God, consubstantial with the Father, come down from Heaven for our salvation. This is no man who becomes God at a certain point in his life; it is God Who becomes man. He comes to us as a Saviour, to free us from the shackles of death brought about by sin. He does not come as political leader or a social revolutionary: His mission to save and to set man on the path to God indeed has consequences for the way in which society ought to be governed and how we each relate to one another, but this is a consequence rather than the end goal of His mission.

Sitting with all that for a moment, let us turn our gaze to St Joseph in the Gospel. He was a good man, a ‘man of honour’ we are told. Despite the custom of his time, given Our Lady’s situation, he places her well-being first, and seeks to respect her integrity by not exposing her to public shame. Here we have a man who is discerning, faithful, and a person of action. We are told he ‘had made up his mind’: he had reached a decision; he was resolute. By divine intervention he is convinced that he need not be afraid in taking her as his wife. That which he could not know by reason was given to him through revelation. St Joseph awakes from his slumber and acting resolutely once more, takes Our lady to his home.

The Mystery of Our Lord can evoke many reactions. Depending on our state of life, the coming of God may evoke a sense of hope and joy; perhaps we may well be frightful or distressed given the way in which we conduct our lives; or maybe we are left confused. Origen says of St Joseph that perhaps he wanted to put Our Lady away out of a great sense of unworthiness as he beheld in her a great sacrament. However we feel, we can try to imitate St Joseph’s patience and discerning attitude as we ponder on the great Mystery we are to celebrate very soon. When God visits us and speaks to us personally in the depths of our soul, may we also be as resolute as St Joseph in our response.

Br Joseph Bailham O.P.

Br Joseph Bailham O.P.

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