Prepare for Sunday Mass: A dubious faith and a silent, steady faith

Each week in OSV Newsweekly, Carl Olson provides a thoughtful, relevant reflection on the Mass readings for Sunday in his "Opening the Word" column. The following is just an excerpt, but you can read the entire column here.

From Carl Olson:

Today’s readings begin with God speaking to an ancient king of dubious faith and conclude with a humble craftsman obeying God’s words with silent, steady faith. Centered between the two are several declarations about the baby, man and the Messiah, Jesus of Nazareth.

Ahaz, the king of Judah (and thus of the Davidic line), who reigned in the late eighth-century B.C., was a leader in a tight spot. Threatened by an alliance of Syrians and Israelites, he looked to the Assyrians for support. The prophet Isaiah had already approached Ahaz, telling him that he must place full trust in God, not in convenient but ruinous political alliances. “Unless your faith is firm,” Isaiah told the wavering ruler, “ you shall not be firm!” (Is 7:1-9). Ahaz was even offered a sign, a remarkable concession to his weak faith. His rejection of the offer was not based in humility, but reflected his decision to side with the Assyrians. Yet a sign was still given, one much discussed over the many centuries. The essential point is that God is true to his covenant, and he does fulfill the promises made to King David — fully and completely in Jesus Christ.

The reading from Matthew’s Gospel focuses on Joseph, yet Mary’s betrothed is completely silent throughout. Joseph was also in a tight spot. The young Mary, to whom he was engaged but not yet married, was pregnant. Following the usual practice, Joseph had been covenanted to Mary and their engagement was as legally binding as marriage. Joseph, “a righteous man,” decided he would quietly divorce Mary. This would keep her from widespread shame but would leave her a single mother, which probably meant a life of poverty and struggle. Joseph, then, sought to follow the Law closely while being as merciful as possible to Mary.

Read Olson's entire column to prepare for Sunday Mass.

Jennifer Rey is the web editor of Our Sunday Visitor Publishing.