Angelus Address on Fourth Sunday of Advent

Joseph «an Authentic Man of Faith»

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 23, 2001 ( Here is a translation of John Paul II´s address before today´s midday Angelus at St. Peter´s Square.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Today we celebrate the Fourth Sunday of Advent, while preparations are well under way for the feast of Christmas. The Word of God in the liturgy helps us to concentrate our attention on the meaning of this fundamental salvific event, which is, at once, historic and supernatural.

«Behold, a young woman shall conceive and bear a son, and shall call his name Immanuel: God-with-us» (Isaiah 7:14). This prophecy of Isaiah is of capital importance in the economy of salvation. It assures us that «God himself» will give King David a descendent as a «sign» of his fidelity. This promise was realized with the birth of Jesus from the Virgin Mary.

2. Therefore, to benefit from the meaning and gift of grace of Christmas, now imminent, we must hasten to the school of Our Lady and her husband Joseph, whom we contemplate in ecstatic adoration of the newborn Messiah in the manger.

In today´s Gospel page, Matthew highlights Joseph´s role, whom he describes as a «righteous» man (Matthew 1:19), underling by this fact how he was entirely given to fulfilling the will of God. Precisely because of this inner justice, which in the last analysis coincides with love, Joseph does not decide to repudiate Mary, when he learns of her incipient pregnancy. He resolves to «divorce her quietly» (Matthew 1:19), but the angel of the Lord asks him not to fear and to take her to himself.

Another essential aspect of St. Joseph´s personality emerges here: He is a man open to hear God in prayer. He learns from the angel that «it is through the holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her» (Matthew 1:20), according to the ancient prophecy: «Behold, a virgin will conceive,» and he is quick to accept God´s plans, which surpass human limitations.

3. In sum, like his wife Mary, Joseph can be described as an authentic man of faith. Faith joins justice and prayer, and this is the most ideal attitude to encounter Emmanuel, the God-with-us. In fact, to believe means to live in history open to God´s initiative, to the creative force of his Word, who became flesh in Christ, uniting himself forever to our humanity. Thus, the Virgin Mary and St. Joseph help us to celebrate in a fruitful way the birth of the Redeemer.

[translation by ZENIT]

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