Fourth Sunday of Advent (A)
December 18, 2022
Fr. John Colacino C.PP.S.





Skies, let the Just One come forth like the dew, let him descend from the clouds like the rain. The earth will open up and give birth to our Saviour.  Ps./ The heavens declare the glory of God, and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands. Day unto day conveys the message, *and night unto night imparts the knowledge.

“The figure of the dew and rain, softly falling to refresh the parched earth, is derived from the well-known story of Gedeon; itwas beautifully applied by the Psalmist, and then taken up
again by the prophet Isaias, who made use of it to describe the benign and loving character of the first coming of the Messiah into the world.” (Schuster)




Pour forth, we beseech you, O Lord,
your grace into our hearts,
that we, to whom the Incarnation of Christ your Son
was made known by the message of an Angel,
may by his Passion and Cross
be brought to the glory of his Resurrection.
Who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, for ever and ever. Amen. (RM)

Purify our conscience, Almighty God, by your daily visitation,
that your Son Jesus Christ, at his coming, may find in us a
mansion prepared for himself; who lives and reigns with you,
in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, now and for ever. Amen. (BCP)

God of grace,
you chose the Virgin Mary, full of grace,
to be the mother of our Lord and Savior.
Now fill us with your grace,
that with her, we may rejoice in your salvation,
and in all things, embrace your will;
through Jesus Christ our Lord,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
one God, now and forever. Amen. (BCW)

First Reading Is 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!
But Ahaz answered,
"I will not ask!  I will not tempt the LORD!"
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.

Responsorial Psalm Ps 24:1-2, 3-4, 5-6

R/. Let the Lord enter; he is king of glory.

The LORD's are the earth and its fullness;
the world and those who dwell in it.
For he founded it upon the seas
and established it upon the rivers.

Who can ascend the mountain of the LORD?
or who may stand in his holy place?
One whose hands are sinless, whose heart is clean,
who desires not what is vain.

He shall receive a blessing from the LORD,
a reward from God his savior.
Such is the race that seeks for him,
that seeks the face of the God of Jacob.



The Lord is nigh unto all them that call upon Him: to all that call upon Him in truth. Vs. My mouth shall speak the praise of the Lord: and let all flesh bless His Holy Name.

"The taken from Psalm xxiii, and describes the triumphal entry of Christ into his kingdom."

Second Reading Rom 1:1-7

Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus,
called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God,
which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
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.
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship,
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.

Alleluia Mt 1:23


"Alleluia, alleluia. Vs. Come Lord! do not delay. Pardon the sins of your people. Alleluia."

“The alleluiatic verse is inspired by Isaias, and has been set to a marvellous melody in the Gregorian collection; it makes us feel all the loving eagerness of a soul who can no longer bear to be far from God. “ Come, O Lord* and tarry no longer to deliver thy people from the bondage of sin.’ Who is thisfortunate people? Certainly not any one particular people, taken in a narrow geographical sense, but the whole of believing humanity, all those who live by God through faith and therefore belong to the people of God.”

Gospel Mt 1:18-24

This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together,
she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
"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.
She will bear a son and you are to name him Jesus,
because he will save his people from their sins."
All this took place to fulfill what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,

which means "God is with us."
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.

Reflection Questions:

What might you be hesitant to seek from the Lord that is “deep as the netherworld or high as the sky?”

What challenges are you facing with regard to the “obedience of faith?”

What dreams in your life go unfulfilled due to fear?

Catena Nova

Speaking mysteries in the Spirit, the inspired Prophet foretold that God would be with us, naming him “Emmanuel” in consideration of his divine nature and of the plan whereby he became incarnate. The blessed angel on the other hand called him by a name that signified his function: he has in fact saved his people, and on this account he is called “Saviour” This is how hosts of angels announced the Good News to the shepherds at the time when he humbled himself to be born in the flesh for our sake: Be not afraid,they said; today we bring you good tidings of a great joy for the whole people: a saviour has been born this day in the city of David, and he is Christ the Lord. Rightly then is he named Emmanuel, because being God by nature he became God-with-us when he was made human. And yet he is also named Jesus, because being God, and being made human, he had the task of saving the world (St. Cyril of Alexandria).

Even if I were to keep silence, my friends, the season would warn us that the birthday of Christ our Lord is at hand. The year is coming to an end and forestalls the subject of my sermon. The depressing shortness of the days itself testifies to the imminence of some event which will bring about the betterment of a world urgently longing for a brighter sun to dispel its darkness. In spite of fearing that its course may be terminated within a few brief hours, the world still shows signs of hope that its yearly cycle will once more be renewed. And if creation feels this hope, it persuades us also to hope that Christ will come like a new sunrise to shed light on the darkness of our sins, and that the Sun of Justice, in the vigour of his new birth, will dispel the long night of guilt from our hearts. Rather than allow the course of our life to come to an end with such appalling brevity, we are confident that he will extend it by his powerful grace (St. Maximus of Turin).

The messianic Kingdom is not inaugurated by a sudden stroke of the sword, nor by an earthquake shattering buildings and destroying whole provinces; it rather resembles a little plant, which, watered by the dews of heaven and kissed by the warm rays of the day-star, grows and flourishes in despite of every obstacle. The second coming of Jesus upon earth will, on the contrary, be sudden and unexpected. On that day he will annihilate in a flash with all the might of his arm the glory of the kingdom of Satan, and the kingdom of God will attain its full extent and its crowning splendour. (Bl. Ildefonso Schuster).

Before God comes to us, He demands preparation. He will not force His gifts upon us. We must desire them, we must be spiritually hungry. Advent desire means that we must cultivate a fruitful soil for the seed of grace, that we must become receptive to God’s kingdom….This desire and longing for God’s kingdom should be sustained throughout life, nourished like a holy light and never permitted to be extinguished. We may fail, we may go astray, or we may be infatuated with earthly things, but if a glimmer of this light remains, we will find our way out of the labyrinth. The only one lost is the one who chokes out this light completely. Advent’s great task, therefore, is to re-enkindle desire, our hope in the kingdom of God (Pius Parsch).

It is now surely clear how the Virgin is the royal way by which the Saviour has drawn near to us, coming forth from her womb as a Bridegroom from His bridal chamber. Holding on, therefore, to this way, let us endeavour to ascend to Him by her, through Whom He descended to us ; let us seek His grace through her by whom He came to succour our need.  O blessed finder of grace ! Mother of life ! Mother of salvation ! may we through thee have access to thy Son, that through thee we may be received by Him Who through thee was given to us. May thy integrity and purity excuse before Him the stain of our corruption ; may thy humility, so pleasing to God, obtain from Him the pardon of our vanity. May thy abundant charity cover the multitude of our iniquity, and thy glorious fruitfulness supply our indigence of merits. Our Lady, our Mediatrix, our Advocate, reconcile us to thy Son, commend us to thy Son, present us to thy Son. By the grace thou hast found, by the prerogative thou didst merit, by the mercy thou didst bring forth, obtain, O blessed one, that He Who vouchsafed to become partaker of our infirmity and misery, may, through thy intercession, make us partakers of His blessed ness and glory, Jesus Christ, thy Son, our Lord, Who is God blessed above all for evermore. Amen (St. Bernard of Clairvaux).

O almighty, omnipotent, eternal God, what greater proof of love could You give Your poor creatures than the gift of Your Word, Your only-begotten Son? For our sake, You clothed with human flesh, like the flesh of sin, Him who is eternal splendor, the perfect image of Your substance!...God of goodness, who art above all goodness, You alone art sovereign good! You gave us the Word, Your only Son, to live with us, to assume our evil, corrupt nature. Why did You make us such a gift? Out of love, because You loved us even before we existed….O eternal Greatness, O fathomless Bounty, You lowered Yourself to ennoble humanity! Wherever I turn, I can see nothing but the abyss and fire of Your charity (St. Catherine of Siena).

By his own will Christ was dependent on Mary during Advent. He was absolutely helpless; he could go nowhere but where she chose to take him; he could not speak; her breathing was his breath; his heart beat in the beating of her heart. Today Christ is dependent upon us. … This dependence of Christ lays a great trust upon us.  During this tender time of Advent we must carry him in our hearts to wherever he wants to go, and there are many places he may never go unless we take him to them (Caryll Houselander).


Dream On

     Poor Joseph.  Here he was getting ready for his wedding day.  The food was ordered, the guests invited, the rabbi hired.  And then she told him: “I’m pregnant.” It must have sent him reeling.  Can’t you hear the discussion that followed?  “Who was it?  Who did this to you?  Were you. . . um, were you. . .you know. . .like. . .I mean. . .?  Oh God, I can’t even think about that.”

     “No, nothing like that,” she might have said.  Followed by the real zinger:  “An angel appeared to me.”  “Right,” he must have thought.  “She’s in denial.  What am I going to do?  Does she know what they’ll do to her when they find out?  She must.  That’s why she’s making this story up.  What am I going to do?  I don’t want to see her stoned in public.  Yet I can’t believe that nonsense about an angel.  And I certainly can’t take her as my wife.  Even if it wasn’t her fault, I don’t think I could trust her again.  Besides, I don’t want to raise someone else’s child.  What am I going to do?”

     Sleep must have come in fits of restless worry.  A few minutes here and there.  Stressed out like nobody’s business, before long he’ll think he's hearing angels too.  And sure enough: 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.  She will bear a son, and you are to name him Jesus, for he will save his people from their sins (G).

     Dreams are funny things, aren’t they? Some people think God speaks to us in dreams.  Others think dreams are the work of the devil.  Some of us dream in color, others in black and white.  Some people record their dreams, and reflect on them; others claim they don’t dream at all, or at least don’t remember them.  Most people, I guess, feel they’re nothing at all.

     But a dream sure helped Joseph decide what to do.  So there must be something to them.  At  the very least, dreams open us to new vistas, to things we would never imagine possible in waking life.  Something like Isaiah telling Ahaz, Ask for a sign of the Lord your God; let it be deep as Sheol or high as heaven (I).

     But like Ahaz, we tend to reject what doesn’t fit in with our expectations.  And nothing seems more at odds with “reality” than our dreams.  They strike us as mere fantasy, don’t they, nothing more than “remains of the day?”  “It was only a dream,” we say.  Just like Ahaz who refused Isaiah’s offer to dream big:  I will not ask, and I will not put the Lord to the test (I), he said.  After all, virgins don’t have children.  Or do they?

     See, God is never content just to meet our expectations. God always exceeds them. But that’s something we don’t expect, do we?  And I suppose that’s why God sometimes speaks to us in ways that surprise us.  Like when daytime prophets fail to move us, and dreams must serve as messengers of God: “Angels of the Lord” who speak the language of the unconscious.

     Take Paul for instance.  He was unmoved by people like Stephen.  He even took part in Stephen’s death for preaching the gospel. To Paul, the Messiah these Christians believed in--declared to be Son of God with power. . .by resurrection from the dead (II) — such a Messiah was totally unexpected.  So God found another means to reach Paul.  The Lord spoke to him on the road to Damascus in a vision.  More visions would follow until, before you knew it, a servant of Jesus Christ was born: called to be an apostle, set apart for the gospel of God (cf. II).

     Then there’s Peter.  God told Peter in a dream the gospel was meant for more than Jews, and that Gentile converts did not have to follow the Law of Moses.  That wasn’t  something Peter was very open to in waking life.  It was totally unexpected.  And if not for wider visions and bolder dreams, the obedience of faith among all the Gentiles would not have been preached, including to [us] who are called to belong to Jesus Christ (cf . II).

     So with Advent drawing to a close, we should look for the unexpected.  Look for the many ways God is with us (G) where we least expect.  Including moments of bewilderment, when something hits us between the eyes, and changes our lives forever.  When plans go suddenly awry,  forcing us to question who we are.   When something we formerly trusted, becomes a source of doubt.  Or when a pregnant pause making us stop and wonder how God could be present in the sleep of despair.

     It’s Advent times like these which call us to wake from sleep, as Joseph did, to do as the angel of the Lord has commanded us.  Times that call us to listen for God in the dark, in voices we do not expect.  And to do so without fear, not dismissing the unexpected quietly, as Joseph first resolved to do, but rather take it into our home, as he finally did.

     And all this, lest we weary [our] God with our narrow visions and wispy dreams of what can or cannot be, what should or should not happen.  For the Lord himself will give us a sign. . .And we shall name [it] Immanuel (cf. I) — if we’re prepared for the unexpected, even for virgins to be found with child (cf. G).  Signs that bring us peace from God our Father and the Lord Jesus Christ (II).  Who live and reign, in the unity of the Holy Spirit, God, forever and ever.  Amen.



Intercessions (Joe Milner; The Sunday Website))

For the Church: that we, like Joseph, may wholeheartedly live our faith traditions and yet remain open to the mystery of God's unconventional work in our lives and the world around us.

For freedom from judging others: that like Joseph, we may hold our judgments so that the work of God may unfold in the hearts and lives of those who are dear to us.

For all who are caught by consumerism: that God will free their minds and hearts so that they may hear God’s call and choose the greater good in their use of their time and resources.

For all who are serving in the military, as relief workers or missionaries or who must serve a greater good away from home this Christmas season and for their families: that God will guide their efforts, protect them from all danger, and bring them home safely.

For all who are suffering for their faith, particularly Christians in the Middle East and West Africa: that God will heal those who have been wounded, give strength to those living their faith, and turn the hearts of oppressors toward coexistence.

For reconciliation within families: that in our celebrations of God being with us, we may forgive past hurts and strive to renew relationships in our families.

For the members of Congress: that God will give them wisdom, guide their search for the truth, and help them to act on the truth for the good of our country.

For all who are burdened by poverty and for those who seek to assist them:  that God will open new ways to meet their needs and bring them hope and courage.

For peace: that the coming of the Prince of Peace may bring healing and safety to those impacted by domestic violence, civil disturbance, and warfare.

Eternal God,
in the psalms of David,
in the words of the prophets,
in the dream of Joseph
your promise is spoken.
At last, in the womb of the Virgin Mary
your Word takes flesh.
Teach us to welcome Jesus, the promised Emmanuel,
and to preach the good news of his coming,
that every age may know him
as the source of redemption and grace.
Grant this through him whose coming is certain,
whose day draws near:
your Son, our Lord Jesus Christ,
who lives and reigns with you in the unity of the Holy Spirit,
God for ever and ever. Amen. (ICEL; 1998)

Offertory Chant


Hail Mary, full of grace, the Lord is with thee: blessed art thou amongst women, and blessed is the fruit of thy womb.

“The Offertory is from St Luke, and repeats the gracious salutation of the angel to Mary, interwoven with the blessings addressed to her by the happy mother of the Forerunner. The history of the prayer Ave Maria, so dear to the piety of the faithful, and grown so familiar to us especially through the rosary, begins with this splendid Gregorian Offertory which gives us the text of the Ave in its original form as it was used throughout the Middle Ages.”

Offertory Hymn


Ecce virgo concipiet et pariet filium:

et vocabitur nomen eius: Admirabilis, Deus Fortis.

Super solium David et super regnum eius sedebit in aeternum.

Behold, the virgin shall conceive and give birth to a son:

and his name shall be called Wonderful, Mighty God.

He shall sit upon David’s throne and reign over his kingdom forever.

Communion Chant

Behold, a Virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and his name shall be called Emmanuel. Ps/.   The heavens declare the glory of God, *and the firmament proclaims the work of his hands. Day unto day conveys the  message, *and night unto night imparts the knowledge.

“In contrast with the old Covenant, Jesus, in the New Law, takes the name of Emmanuel to emphasize the indissoluble character of the friendship now established between God and man. Sin will no longer be able to destroy this order of things, since as long as Jesus shall be Jesus— and this he will be for ever—he will also always be our advocate with the Father and all-powerful to wash away our sins in his Blood.”

Closing Hymn


To a maid engaged to Joseph, the angel Gabriel came.
“Fear not,” the angel told her, “I come to bring good news,
Good news I come to tell you, good news, I say, good news!”

“For you are highly favored by the God the Lord of all,
Who even now is with you. You are on earth most blest,
You are most blest, most blessèd, God chose you, you are blest!”

But Mary was most troubled to hear the angel’s word.
What was the angel saying? It troubled her to hear,
To hear the angel’s message, it troubled her to hear.

“Fear not,” for God is with you, and you shall bear a child.
His name shall be called Jesus, God’s offspring from on high.
And he shall reign forever, forever reign on high.”

“How shall this be?” said Mary, “I am not yet a wife.”
The angel answered quickly, “The power of the Most High
Will come upon you shortly, your child will be God’s child.”

As Mary heard the angel, she wondered at his words.
“Behold, I am your handmaid, “ she said unto her God.
“So be it; I am ready according to your word.”