Sunday, December 18, 2016 Fourth Sunday of Advent Introduction
Today Isaiah prophesies that a young woman will bear a son and name him Emmanuel. The gospel is Matthew’s account of the annunciation and birth of the one named Emmanuel, God-with-us. During these final days of Advent we pray, “O come, O come, Emmanuel,” a beloved hymn based on ancient prayers appointed for the seven days preceding Christmas. On this final Sunday in Advent we prepare to celebrate the birth of the one born to save us from the power of sin and death.
First Reading: Isaiah 7:10-16
An Israelite and Aramean military coalition presented a serious threat to King Ahaz of Judah. In response, Ahaz decided to secure his throne and kingdom by seeking refuge in Assyrian help. Isaiah reminds Ahaz that human attempts to establish security will fail. The prophet gives the sign of Immanuel that is the only source of true safety: God is with us!
Psalm: Psalm 80:1-7, 17-19
Let your face shine upon us, and we shall be saved. (Ps. 80:7)
Second Reading: Romans 1:1-7
Most of the Christians in Rome do not know Paul. In this letter’s opening he introduces himself as an apostle divinely appointed to spread God’s gospel. The gospel’s content is the promised coming of Christ, and Paul’s mission is to bring about the obedience of faith among all nations, including his Roman audience.
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-25
Matthew’s story of Jesus’ birth focuses on the role of Joseph, who adopts the divinely-begotten child into the family of David and obediently gives him the name Jesus, which means “God saves.”