Mass Readings for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A
- First Reading – Isaiah 7:10-14: “The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying: Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God; let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!”
- Responsorial Psalm – Psalm 24: “Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.”
- Second Reading – Romans 1:1-7: “The gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh, but established as Son of God in power according to the Spirit of holiness through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.”
- Gospel – Matthew 1:18-24: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home. For it is through the Holy Spirit that this child has been conceived in her.”
Themes for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A
The readings for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A challenge us to look beyond our own understanding and have faith. The first reading foretells that a virgin will give birth. The psalm praises the wonders of God. The second reading speaks of the promises of God through the ages and the resurrection of Jesus Christ. In the gospel we hear how an angel appeared to Joseph and he did as the angel told him.
- Listening with ears of faith
- Faith and science
See the Homilies and Reflections section and the More Thoughts section for further expansion on these readings and some reflection questions for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A.
Resources for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A
Litany of St. Joseph
In this Litany of St. Joseph, we ask this saint to pray for us so we can be more like him, especially in the way he trusted in God and cared for the Holy Family.
Pray the O Antiphons
The “O Antiphons” are part of the evening prayer from the Liturgy of the Hours for December 17 to December 23. In them, Old Testament imagery is used to proclaim the coming of the Christ child. Incorporate them into your family prayer this advent.
Advent Ideas for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A
Let the Spirit of Advent Visit
Christmas is getting closer. This is the time when we start to panic about all of the things we need to do between now and December 25. Take a breather from the worry today and let the spirit of Advent visit your family.
Put Up the Tree and Do a Christmas Tree Blessing
This Christmas tree blessing will help kids connect the traditions of the season with the Incarnation.
Have an Advent Prayer Service
Today, say a simple Advent prayer service together. It doesn’t need to be lengthy. In fact, with very young children, shorter is better so they can really pay attention.
Homilies and Reflections for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A
The Promise of Emmanuel
From Bishop Robert Barron of Word on Fire. “Friends, many mythologies and philosophies in the ancient world held that time is cyclical; it just goes round and round. Many people today, on the other hand, hold that time is meaningless; it is just one thing after another. The Bible says no to both of those finally despairing understandings of time. As we see in the readings for the Fourth Sunday of Advent, time has a trajectory; it moves toward its fulfillment in Christ, who is Emmanuel—God is with us.”
The Poverty of Christmas
From Fr. Richard Rohr of the Center for Action and Contemplation: “There’s really nothing necessarily pretty about the first Christmas. We have Joseph breaking the law, knowing what he should do with a seemingly ‘adulterous woman,’ but he doesn’t divorce Mary as the Law clearly tells him to do, even though he has no direct way of knowing that the baby was conceived by the Holy Spirit [Matthew 1:18–24]. ” Continue reading.
From Bishop Robert Barron. “The Bible is not the story of our quest for God; it is the story of God’s quest for us. Both the first reading and the Gospel for this fourth Sunday of Advent make this subversion evident.”
God Is with Us
From Scott Hahn. “The sign promised to the House of David in today’s First Reading is given in today’s Gospel. In the virgin found with child, God Himself has brought to Israel a savior from David’s royal line. All nations now are called to belong to Jesus Christ, to enter into the House of David and Kingdom of God, the Church.” Continue reading.
Ahaz, Isaiah, and Joseph
Also from Bishop Barron. “In experiencing hardship, we have a tendency to assume the worst, thinking narrowly. The Biblical vision is the opposite of this. Biblical figures see the world through the infinite possibility of God – based in their faith in the Lord. Ahaz refused to be surprised by God’s possibility. Isaiah was ready to be surprised.”
An Angel Appears to Joseph
From Loyola Press. “Finally, on this the Fourth Sunday of Advent, our Gospel Reading permits us to begin our contemplation of the mystery of the Incarnation we celebrate at Christmas: ‘Now this is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about’. ” Continue reading.
More Thoughts for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A
In the first reading, Azah is the ruler of Judah. He is hemmed in by enemies. Isaiah reminds him that God is the protector of Israel. Isaiah even tells the king that he can ask God for a sign for reassurance. But the insecure Ahaz prefers to put his trust in military might rather than God.
Joseph, on the other hand, trusts in God rather than his own knowledge. He might not understand all that his happening around him, but when the angel appears, he follows the guidance he receives and Mary becomes his wife.
Reflection Questions for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A
- Do I rely on my own knowledge?
- Am I willing to accept that there are things beyond my comprehension?
- Do I trust in God when I feel hemmed in by my problems?
Quotes and Social Media Graphics for the 4th Sunday of Advent Year A
The Lord himself will give you this sign: the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.
As we draw near to Christmas, let us learn from Saint Joseph how to cultivate spaces for silence in which another Word can emerge, that of the Holy Spirit who dwells in us.Pope Francis
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