December 18, 2022 – Fourth Sunday of Advent
Click here for the readings (https://bible.usccb.org/bible/readings/121822.cfm)
Normal for any man to defend himself when being held accountable for the things he did not do. Normal for us to ask why and to demand justice for being held responsible for the actions we did not commit. Saan ang hustisya pag ako o tayo ay ipapanagut sa mga bagay na di naman natin ginawa? As today’s Filipino young people would say: #Nagmahal #Nasaktan #Pinapanagut (#Loved, #Hurt #Being Held Accountable for).
In our gospel today, we hear the story of the birth of Jesus as experienced by Joseph. If we really come to think of it, Joseph’s experience of the birth of Jesus is a story of being Pinapanagut or being held accountable for something not-yours. Joseph’s experience of Jesus’ birth is also a story of “Nagmahal, Nasaktan, Pinapanagut”
Obviously, Joseph Nagmahal (Joseph has loved). He loved his wife-to be Mary very much. He is willing to grow old and have a family with Mary. He is a just and righteous man who will do everything for his marriage and family to-be. But Joseph also Nasaktan. Joseph was also hurt by what happened. Who would not be hurt and pained when you just learned that your beloved is already pregnant before you lived together and the baby is not-yours? Ang sakittttttt. Can we blame Joseph for planning to quietly divorce Mary? We can easily relate with the broken-hearted Joseph. With such hurt and pain, others would even say: “Walang Forever” There is no such thing as forever.
And worse, Joseph Pinapanagut. Joseph is being held responsible and accountable for all of these things. If it is hurtful and hurting to learn that your wife to-be is already pregnant of a baby who is not-yours, how much more if you are pinapanagut – being held accountable and responsible for the baby? If you are Joseph, are you willing to take responsibility? Are you ready and willing to take responsibility for the so-called “unwanted” child? Would you still love your “unfaithful” wife to-be who is now pregnant with a child not-yours?
This is the story of Joseph as He experienced the birth of the Messiah. A story of being held accountable for something and someone not-yours. Nagmahal, nasaktan, pinapanagut sa hindi kanya. Loved, hurt, and being held responsible for something or someone not-yours.
The story of Joseph is also the story of our salvation. As the Lord offers us His beloved Son into our lives, we are asked to be like Joseph, i.e. to be held responsible for God and others – someone and something not-ours. Pinapanagut tayo. Like Joseph, we are being held accountable for His Son Jesus, for the sake of God and others, and not for our own sake. Pinapaangkin sa atin ang Kanyang Anak – to accept His son as our very own. And in doing so, in taking responsibility for God, like Joseph, we will love and be hurt along the way, and will be held accountable for something or someone not-ours.
Because, only by taking responsibility and be held accountable for Jesus like Joseph, God’s grace and salvation continues to prosper and fulfill into our lives today. Thus, God’s incarnation requires our Responsibility, (response-ability) our ability to response for God’s sake than ourselves.
Here we have much to learn from Joseph himself. As he went through the difficult experience of being accountable for God’s Son, he always honors and only listens to God’s message to him. Despite his confusions, frustrations, and broken-heartedness, Joseph simply listens to God’s message, honors God’s will, and hopes on God’s promise of Emmanuel “God is with us”, being responsible and accountable for Him. By always honoring and listening to God’s will and message to us, we become more responsible for Emmanuel, God with us.
Christmas is already near upon us. Actually the Lord has already came and arrived into our lives. But do we welcome Him into our lives? Do we follow Him and let Him change and influence our lives? Are we willing to be held responsible and accountable for Him, our God with us?
The requirements of Advent for us to “Be awake & Be Prepared”, to “Repent for the Kingdom of God is at hand”, to “Go and Tell others what we have seen & heard” & to “Not be Afraid to take home” the Holy Family into our lives now are enough preparations for us to receive & celebrate once again & anew God’s blessings upon us now & forever.
We pray then that like Joseph and Mary, we may be willing responsible and accountable people and parent for the Lord into our lives by always listening and responding to God’s message and will for us. Amen.