Our Lady Queen of Heaven
Catholic Church, Harwich, Essex

4 Sunday of Advent, Nativity of the Lord, Solemnity of Mary 18 and 25 December and 1 January 2023

Fourth Sunday of Advent (Matthew 1:18-24)

Like Mary, Joseph too had to listen for the message of God. Like Mary, he too was invited to play his part in the working out of God’s mysterious plan that the Son of God should become man. This gospel reading gives us the basis for our belief in the virginal conception of Jesus. The role of Mary as ‘virgin mother’ is quite unique, and Joseph has to go against his initial inclinations and make the decision to ‘take his wife to his home’.

In this reading we encounter the first of many verses which Matthew will quote from the Old Testament, declaring that they are ‘fulfilled’. The text at this Mass from the prophet Isaiah speaks of God’s constant solidarity with the people. The fulfilment of this same text, which is announced by Matthew in the gospel reading, points to something even greater, the extraordinary intervention of God to bring the Son of God into the world.

Am I like Joseph willing to go against deeply felt ideas in order to do the will of God?

Why would God desire that the saviour should be born by virginal conception?

Let us pray that we may welcome God’s new ways as we prepare for Christmas.

Let us pray for the people of Palestine and Israel that they may have peace.

The Nativity of the Lord (John 1:1-18

The opening words of the Gospel, according to John, known as the Prologue, offer a rich reflection on the mystery of the human birth of the Son of God. The evangelist refers to him as ‘the Word’, for God has finally spoken his fullest word to the human race. God having spoken at many times in the past ‘in the last days has spoken to us through his Son’. Jesus is referred to as ‘the Light’, for he brings truth and direction in our darkness. The darkness of sin and death cannot overcome the light of Christ. The Word will be rejected by many, but[power will be given to those who do accept him, to all those who believe in him. The feast of Christ’s birth invites us to renew that faith and welcome the Word of Light into our lives again.

Do I appreciate that the birth of Christ is God’s loving invitation to change my lie?

Do I welcome the Word of life and light into the sark corners of my life?

We pray that the feast of Christmas will bring many to reconsider the Christian message.

Let us open our hearts to the grace and truth of God.

The Solemnity of Mary, Mother of God (Luke 2:16-21)

The coming into a human life of the Son of God could only happen with the collaboration of Mary, this humble woman of Nazareth. God respects our human freedom, Mary was invited to work for God in this unique way. Her response to the invitation was a courageous and generous ‘yes’. Her fiat is a turning point in history, for it enables the Son of God to become a human being. Her fiat is an example to all those who, like Mary, endeavour to do the will of God be following Jesus.

As St Paul writes ‘at the appointed time god sent his Son, born of a woman’ in order to redeem us and offer us adoption as children of God. Our first reading, from the Book of Numbers, invokes God’s blessing on God’s people as the new year begins.

Do I appreciate the courage and love of |Mary and see her as an example?

Do I imitate Mary’s silence and her pondering of God’s goodness in her heart?

We pray that we may follow the example of Mary, the first servant of Jesus Christ, who listened for God’s word and responded with generosity.

We open our hearts to God at the beginning of a new year, that God may bless us and keep us day by day.                                                                                                                                        Fr Adrian Graffy