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Hearing the Voices of Angels

Hearing the Voices of Angels         Advent 4

Voice of AngelsHow does God speak to you? How do you recognise the voice of God speaking above the rabble of your own thoughts? Perhaps God speaks to you through the voices of others. Or does God use angels who speak in your dreams?

Such was the case for Joseph as he wrestled with the shame of Mary’s miraculous and unexpected pregnancy. His first reaction was to ‘dismiss her quietly’ [Mt 1:19] which would effectively break off their engagement. But an angel spoke plainly to Joseph in a dream, directing him to marry the expectant Mary, and he named the newborn son Jesus, so fulfilling an ancient prophecy [20-25].

The Christmas story is so well-known we might be tempted to think there’s nothing new to learn. But a passage often overlooked in Matthew’s gospel is the introduction which establishes the genealogy of Jesus before presenting us with the familiar story of Joseph and Mary’s betrothal and marriage.

Matthew, addressing a Jewish audience, takes great care in setting out Jesus’ royal lineage back through David to Father Abraham, considered the greatest of the patriarchs of the Hebrew scriptures.

By establishing beyond doubt Jesus’ royal lineage, Matthew underlines the fulfilment of ancient prophecy and Jesus’ claim as the Messiah.

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ISAIAH 7: 10-16     Isaiah Gives Ahaz the Sign of Immanuel

10 Again the Lord spoke to Ahaz, saying, 11 Ask a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven. 12 But Ahaz said, I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test. 13 Then Isaiah said: ‘Hear then, O house of David! Is it too little for you to weary mortals, that you weary my God also? 14 Therefore the Lord himself will give you a sign. Look, the young woman is with child and shall bear a son, and shall name him Immanuel. 15 He shall eat curds and honey by the time he knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good. 16 For before the child knows how to refuse the evil and choose the good, the land before whose two kings you are in dread will be deserted.

ROMANS 1: 1-7    1 Paul, a servant of Jesus Christ, called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God, which he promised beforehand through his prophets in the holy scriptures, the gospel concerning his Son, who was descended from David according to the flesh and was declared to be Son of God with power according to the spirit of holiness by resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord, through whom we have received grace and apostleship to bring about the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles for the sake of his name, including yourselves who are called to belong to Jesus Christ, To all God’s beloved in Rome, who are called to be saints: Grace to you and peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.

 

MATTHEW 1:18-25   The Birth of Jesus the Messiah

18 Now the birth of Jesus the Messiah took place in this way. When his mother Mary had been engaged to Joseph, but before they lived together, she was found to be with child from the Holy Spirit. 19 Her husband Joseph, being a righteous man and unwilling to expose her to public disgrace, planned to dismiss her quietly. 20 But just when he had resolved to do this, an angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said, ‘Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife, for the child conceived in her is from the Holy Spirit. 21 She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins.’ 22 All this took place to fulfil what had been spoken by the Lord through the prophet: 23 ‘Look, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel’, which means, ‘God is with us.’ 24 When Joseph awoke from sleep, he did as the angel of the Lord commanded him; he took her as his wife, 25 but had no marital relations with her until she had borne a son; and he named him Jesus.