Matthew 1:18-24

Fourth Sunday of Advent 2016

Posted on

Gospel Reflection for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A – December 18th 2016

Full scripture for this Sunday is available on the Catholic Ireland website. Daily Scripture is also available.


This is how Jesus Christ came to be born. His mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph; but before they came to live together she was found to be with child through the Holy Spirit. Her husband Joseph; being a man of honour and wanting to spare her publicity, decided to divorce her informally. He had made up his mind to do this when the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary home as your wife, because she has conceived what is in her by the Holy Spirit. She will give birth to a son and you must name him Jesus, because he is the one who is to save his people from their sins.’ Now all this took place to fulfil the words spoken by the Lord through the prophet:

The virgin will conceive and give birth to a son and they will call him Emmanuel, a name which means ‘God-is-with-us.’
When Joseph woke up he did what the angel of the Lord had told him to do: he took his wife to his home.
Matthew 1:18-24


A central message of advent is in the last few lines of the gospel:  ‘Emmanuel, a name which means “God-is-with-us”’.

emmanuel-god-with-usThis is the true and deepest meaning of the Christmas time; worth our preparation. The baby in the manger, the child in his mother’s womb, the outpouring of the Holy spirit on Mary, is ‘God-is-with-us.
Christmas offers the gift of faith; offers this gift with the very human realities of birth, joy, struggle, confusion and peace. Christmas is a gift given, and a gift to be shared, and sometimes a gift to be worked at.

In prayer we receive the peace and joy of the feast; in our kindness to others at Christmas we share his coming; and in our working in the world, or in the family and communities, for peace, reconciliation, forgiveness and other qualities of the message of the gospel, we bring Christmas alive.

In these ways God is with us; his birth was in the ordinary locality, not just in the temple, so it is great to see the crib in the street, the shop window and in the home.

We need this message very much in a world of war and terror; we need it too in the ordinary days  of our lives. and we can be truly grateful that the real Christmas gift is wrapped in the human body and lasts forever, for this life and the next.

Jesus, Emmanuel, strengthen our faith.

Donal Neary SJ

Fr Donal Neary SJ is editor of the Sacred Heart Messenger

gospel-reflections-year-aReflections for Year A, first published in other years in Logos Missalette, have now been published in book form:

Gospel Reflections for Sundays of Year A: Matthew, Messenger Publications 2016, €9.99

Order online at, or in Veritas and other booksellers.