Is. 7:10-14; Rom 1:1-7; Matt 1:18-24
“Those who love to be feared, fear to be loved; they themselves are of all people the most abject; some fear them, but they fear everyone,” is what Jean Pierre Camus had said about fear itself.
Today is the Fourth Sunday of Advent and few days from now; we are going to celebrate the birthday anniversary of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Our gospel for today is about St. Joseph who has a plan to part ways with Mary secretly even if he is already betrothed to her when he finds out that Mary is pregnant.
According to the commentary of William Barclay on this passage (Matt. 1:18-24) he said that in normal relationships represent normal Jewish marriage procedure in which there are three steps:
1. There was the engagement. The engagement was often made when the couple was only children. It was usually through the parents or through professional matchmaker. So it was often made without the couple involved ever having seen each other.
2. There was the betrothal. The betrothal was what we might call the ratification of the engagement into which the couple had previously entered. At this stage, the engagement entered into could be broken if the girl was unwilling to go on with it. But once the betrothal was entered into, it was absolutely binding. It lasted for one year. During that year the couple were known as man and wife, although they had not the right of man and wife. It could not be terminated in any other way than by divorce. It was at this stage that Joseph and Mary were. They were betrothed and if Joseph wishes to end the betrothal, he could do so in no other way by divorce and in that year of betrothal Mary was legally known as his wife.
3. The third stage was the marriage proper, which took place at the end of the year of betrothal.
So it was at the second stage that Joseph was told that Mary was to bear a child, that the child had been begotten by the Holy Spirit and He must called the child by the name Jesus. Jesus is the Greek form of the Jewish name Joshua and Joshua means Jehovah is salvation.
Many of us would think too that Christ is the family name of Jesus. Strictly speaking, it is not and it is not a name too but a title. Christ means “Anointed One” or “Messiah”, the liberator whom God had promised to send to the Jews and for whose coming they all longed.
But the angel tells Joseph when he plans for a secret divorce: “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary your wife into your home,” (v. 20). This is now the message: Do not be afraid.
Actually Joseph is not afraid to take Mary as his wife. He is afraid that he could be the foster father of Jesus and to accept Him as his Son. Since he knows who Jesus is and to be his foster father entails a very personal and intimate relationship with Him. He is afraid of the challenges and demands that relationship might require of him.
It is the same with us. We want to be blessed with God and yet we are afraid of the demands that the blessings require of us: “Everybody want to listen to a good homily but everybody are afraid to act after the homily because it entails responsibility doing good and be examples to others.
According to Napoleon Hill (1986) considers fear as the most dangerous enemy of people searching for success. He identified six basic fears with their corresponding symptoms namely:
1. Fear of poverty – indifference, indecision, doubt, worry, over-cautiousness and procrastination.
2. Fear of Criticism – self-consciousness, lack of poise, weak personality, inferiority complex, extravagance, lack of initiative and lack of ambition.
3. Fear of Ill-health – autosuggestion, hypochondria, indolence, self-cuddling, intemperance ad worry.
4. Fear of Loss of Love – jealousy, faultfinding and gambling.
5. Fear of Old age – premature slowdown, apology for one’s age, killing of initiative and masquerading as a younger person.
6. Fear of Death – thinking about dying, association with fear of poverty and association with illness or imbalance.
You can now imagine the effects on people of the other forms of fear, Hill enumerated. Fear can indeed be a dangerous enemy in you. We must not therefore allow it to ruin our lives. Overcome it! How to overcome fear? There are four, by:
1. Utilize fear as a tool for growth
2. Withdraw from the fear
3. Control the source of fear
4. Attack the source of the threat
But above all, trust in God and do His will because God has a message on each one of us.
See Today’s Readings: Cycle A