Taking a risk of faith


By Deacon Angel Hernandez
For The Catholic Messenger

The fourth Sunday of Advent represents peace. It reminds us of the message of the heavenly angels, “Peace on Earth.” Two figures are set before us in this Sunday’s readings and both are asked to trust in God and have faith.


Advent is supposed to be a time of hope, faith, joy and peace. It usually gets lost in our western society by the “Christmas rush.” We as Christians are asked to take a risk of faith, to avoid getting sucked into the secular world, and to dig deeper into our faith, our commitment to God and the event that is unfolding before us. The stories that we hear this Sunday are tests of faith.

King Ahaz was unable to take the risk of faith but St. Joseph trusted in God by taking the risk and obeying him. I can only imagine St. Joseph when he found out that Mary was with child. His stress level was probably off the charts by the situation. What was he going to do, how was society going to look at him and Mary? Then an angel comes and tells him “do not be afraid.” It seems like after the angel appeared in St. Joseph’s dream his stress level diminished and he was at peace. God was truly with him.


St. Joseph’s “yes” (and Mary’s) allowed the Lord to enter into our earthly world in all his glory. In our Hispanic culture, we have a Catholic tradition called Posadas, which is a reenactment of Mary and Joseph trying to find room in the inn. People dress up as Mary, Joseph and the innkeeper. We sing a song back and forth to each other. Mary and Joseph are literally outside singing their request for shelter and the innkeeper and others are inside singing there is no room.

Toward the end of the reenactment of this rich tradition, the innkeeper lets Mary and Joseph in, recognizing that Mary is carrying the Christ child. The singing continues and the lyrics change from tense to peaceful. The innkeeper takes a risk. At the beginning, he doesn’t trust who these people are until he opens his heart and places his whole trust in God. Then, with open arms, he allows Mary and Joseph to come in.

During this time of Advent, have we said yes to the Lord and welcomed him in? Have we allowed the Word made flesh into our hearts? God yearns for us. He is right outside our doorsteps, asking us to let him in.

Through all the busyness and stress that the secular world brings us, may we find peace in this time of Advent like St. Joseph did and may we take the risk of faith and trust in God. May we live our lives through our faith as it shines on the world through our actions, in the ways we treat each other. May the true meaning of Advent fill our hearts with comfort as it did for St. Joseph, who accepted the risk and put his whole trust in God.
(Deacon Angel Hernandez serves at St. Patrick Parish-Iowa City.)

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