Dear Sisters and Brothers in Christ, 

 We say the liturgical salutation and response, “The Lord be with you, and with your spirit,” so often that we forget the importance of what we are offering one another; the presence of Jesus Christ. When the Angel of the Lord came to Joseph in his Annunciation, the angel said, “Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary (as) 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.” 

 The title the Angel of the Lord greets Joseph with reveals that God’s plan of salvation is being fulfilled, “Joseph, son of David.” What does this title reveal to us? We need to look at the previous 17 verses of Chapter 1 of the Gospel of Matthew and, in particular, the opening verse of Chapter 1, “The book of the genealogy of Jesus Christ, the son of David, the son of Abraham.” (Matt. 1:1) Jesus unites us to Abraham, our Father in faith, and he fulfills the prophecy that the Messiah would come from the line of David. Son of David is one of the titles for the Messiah. Joseph himself identified as a son of David. “Jacob, the father of Joseph, the husband of Mary. Of her was born Jesus who is called the Messiah” (Matt. 1:16)  

 Another sign that is provided by God to help identify the Messiah comes from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah and repeated in the Gospel of Matthew, “Behold the virgin shall bear a son and they shall name him Emmanuel which means; God is with us.” (Matt.1:21) The prophet Isaiah spoke these words to King Ahaz, “the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son, and shall name him Emmanuel.” (Isaiah 7:10-14) The prophet Isaiah promises the Lord will come to us by birth through the virgin. The Gospel of Matthew proclaims the fulfillment of the promise to Joseph in a dream; this is Joseph’s Annunciation. The Angel of the Lord speaks the words of the Prophet Isaiah to Joseph in his Annunciation which reveal that God is with us. Joseph cooperates with the prophecy by listening to the Angel of the Lord and takes Mary into his home. 

 The Scriptures for the Fourth Sunday of Advent — the Psalm (24: 1-6) and the Second Reading from St. Paul’s Letter to the Romans 1:1-7 — ask us to reflect on what we are doing to reveal that God is with us? “For in it is revealed the righteousness of God from faith to faith; as it is written, the one who is righteous by faith will live.” (Rm. 1:17) Our lives are to become an annunciation and we then announce to the world that Jesus is Emmanuel, God with us!

 Both Mary in her Annunciation in Luke 1:30 and Joseph in his Annunciation in Matthew 1:20 were both addressed with the same comforting statement, “do not be afraid.” These words remind us that we too should not be afraid, for “God is with us.”  Remember liturgical salutation announces that God is with us by our offering the Lord to others, “The Lord be with you.”  We cannot offer to others what we do not have. What we offer to others is offered back to us; remember the response, “And with your spirit.” When we offer the presence of God to others, the presence of God is offered to us. The response to Psalm 24 that we sing on the Fourth Sunday of Advent sums it up well, “Let the Lord enter, he is the King of Glory.” The Lord’s presence in us becomes our Annunciation to others and what do we announce? That God is with us!