1.Isaiah 7:10-14
2. Romans1:1-7
Gospel: Matthew 1:18-24

                              " Do you have fear?"

There was a news paper counselor who received 10,000 Letters a month. Almost all of them were from people burdened with life's problems. One day that news paper counselor was asked if there was a common problem that people seemed to struggle with more than any other. Her reply was fear

In our everyday life  fear is a common problem from which none of us is immune. According to a well know expert, 90 per cent  of the chronic patients who see today's physicians have one common symptom and that is, fear.

Coming to our readings today, the in today's gospel says to St. Joseph: " Joseph, son of David, do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife..." . The angel said these words because St. Joseph was planning to part ways with Mary secretly even if he is already betrothed to here when he finds out that Mary is pregnant. There were severe laws against pre-marital sex and adult in Biblical times. For example if a man discovered that his fiancée was pregnant by another man, then he had right to denounce his wife. Likewise Joseph discovers that Mary is pregnant. Joseph being righteous man, the Bible tells us that, he believed in and truly worshiped God and tried to follow God's laws. God's laws were clear that adulterers were to be stoned. And Mary had been seemingly caught committing adultery, so she has to be stoned to death. But being righteous, he chose to keep things quiet. He put aside his own feelings of hurt to take care of matters in a ways that would not end with Mary being disgraced and maybe executed and so he wanted to part ways with Mary secretly.

Actually Joseph was not afraid to take Mary to be his wife, but what he was afraid. What St. Joseph was afraid of was that he would be the legal father of Jesus. Since Joseph knew who Jesus was and he knew that to be the legal father of Jesus would imply to carry on a very personal and intimate relationship with him. St Joseph became fearful of the challenges and demands that the relationship might require of him.

On our part we are challenged by the fact that why are we afraid of, especially taking responsibilities? Anyway, all of us have fears. Some fears are good and they protect us and some are bad since they tend to destroy us. If we are persons of many fears, our life will not only be miserable but we are easy target for  Satan. Satan is so happy if we are afraid. Satan preys on our fears, like fear of rejection, fear of growing old, fear of pain and may be fear of loneliness.
There several ways in which we may overcome fears

First is learn to admit them. This is the first step for resolving any problem. Jesus said: "You will know the truth and the truth will set you free."

Second is, verbalize your fears. This gets them out in the open where they can be dealt with.

Third is, don't  allow your fears to control you. It is normal to be scared, however it is immature to allow your feelings to control your actions. You can control your actions regardless of your feelings. It is not always easy but it is a choice we all have.

Fourth is, if your fears are imaginary, acknowledge this and refuse to believe them. Get facts before jumping to conclusions. Remember, what the mind dwells on, it will eventually believe and act on. Refuse to dwell on fearful thoughts.

Fifth is, if fear is an on-going anxiety that has no apparent cause, realize that it is most likely a symptom of some hidden fear. If so, it may be wise to see a trained counselor to help you find and resolve the cause.

Sixth is, if the fear is real accept your situation but take whatever steps you can change the circumstances that causes your fear. If you fear a lay off, upgrade your training to suit the needs of the changing work environment.

Seventh is, learn to trust God, above all. There is no greater way to overcome fear. And this is the choice we all can make. Scripture has it: " Fear of man will prove to be a snare, but whoever trusts in the Lord is kept safe."( Proverbs 29:25)

Nevertheless, above all, we should not be afraid because Jesus is Emmanuel which means, " God is with us." From the ancient times, God has said, " I am with you." These are in fact words of consolation, word that dispel fear and give hope, words that stroke the fan of faith. God has litanies of these words, " I am with you," to His people. In Genesis 17:1-19, He told Abraham: " I am with you." In Exodus 2:11-15, He told Moses, " I am with you always." When the disciples found the risen Lord, Christ told them, " go, make disciples of all nations, teach them and baptize them." This is because God is with his disciples, we now have over two billion Christians around the world. In the book of the Acts of the Apostles 18: 5-10 God told Paul, " I am with you." One day while Paul preached in the synagogue that Jesus is the Christ, the Jews jeered him. Paul walked out and said, " From now on I will go to the gentiles." In a vision, Paul heard God saying, " I am with you."

When being celebrating the fourth Sunday of Advent, throughout the history of our faith, God never tires of singing the love song, " I am with you."

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Chapisha Maoni