Fourth Sunday of Advent Reflection

The University of San Diego graciously invited me to contribute to their annual Advent Calendar and Reflection Series. It has been a personal joy to enter into these reflections for the liturgical season. I will paste my Fourth Sunday reflection below:


For those in the northern hemisphere, yesterday marked the darkest day of the year. And today we enter the fourth Sunday of Advent, when our wreath shines at its brightest.

Light changes things. It allows us to see things we were not able to previously, giving us a fuller picture of our reality.

Looking briefly at our previous Sunday readings, in the first week, we are exhorted to realize the immediacy of Christ’s coming. In the second Sunday, we hear themes of repentance, right relationship and social justice. Last Sunday focused on signs, reversal, and the restoration of what is broken. These are big.

Today’s Gospel presents a bit of a contrast. For nothing is too small for God.

Instead of great social reforms, healing miracles and anticipations of signs, we have a humbler situation. Joseph – like all of us – trying to do the right thing in a complicated situation.

And with – like all of us – incomplete information.

Based upon what he knew, the good, right and merciful thing to do was to quietly divorce Mary. But that evening, under the darkness of night, Joseph’s world was illuminated. In a beautiful contrast to other Sundays’ miraculous healings and great signs, Joseph’s reality did not change. The world he woke up to was exactly the same as the one he went to bed with. Instead, he saw the fullness of his situation, changing the way he understood reality and his place in it.

Which invites us to contemplate in these last days of Advent: What of God’s love, glory and goodness am I failing to see? Where does God already dwell in my world? I am the last to tell you that God is not in the shiny ribbons, family traditions and favorite recipes you might be scrambling to ready. In fact, in the generosity, kindness, love and belonging you’re extending, I know God is there. Let’s take the time to see God’s active presence in all things so that we, like Joseph, might understand our reality in a whole new way.