As we approach the Solemnity of Christmas, in these days of the “O Antiphons”, the scriptures point more and more directly to the coming of Jesus as the Messiah. Today’s Old Testament reading from Jeremiah begins:
Behold, the days are coming, says the LORD,
when I will raise up a righteous shoot to David;
As king he shall reign and govern wisely,
he shall do what is just and right in the land.
In his days Judah shall be saved,
Israel shall dwell in security.
This is the name they give him:
“The LORD our justice.” (Jer 23:5-6)
Today’s gospel, picking up from yesterday’s genealogy of Jesus emphasizing Jesus’ very Jewish and very human roots (complete with 42 generations of really hard-to-pronounce names), continues by relating the story of the birth of Christ:
This is how the birth of Jesus Christ came about.
When his mother Mary was betrothed to Joseph,
but before they lived together, she was found with child through the Holy Spirit.
Joseph her husband, since he was a righteous man,
yet unwilling to expose her to shame,
decided to divorce her quietly.
Such was his intention when, behold,
the angel of the Lord appeared to him in a dream and said,
“Joseph, son of David,
do not be afraid to take Mary 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.”
All this took place to fulfill
what the Lord had said through the prophet:
Behold, the virgin shall be with child and bear a son,
and they shall name him Emmanuel,
which means “God is with us.”
When Joseph awoke,
he did as the angel of the Lord had commanded him
and took his wife into his home.
He had no relations with her until she bore a son,
and he named him Jesus. (Mt 1:18-25)
This gospel is chock full of marvels to ponder: Joseph’s dream, Mary vulnerability, David’s lineage, the angel’s message, the prophecy, and more.
I’d like you to take one thing with you in the week ahead going up to Christmas Breathe it in and breathe it out. Repeat it again and again as you go through your day; in your waking and your sleeping: “Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
Say it aloud, “Emmanuel, which means ‘God is with us.’”
No matter what the circumstances –
In plenty and in want, “Emmanuel…‘God is with us.’”
In sorrow and in joy, “Emmanuel…‘God is with us.’”
In sickness and in health, “Emmanuel…‘God is with us.’”
In laughter and in tears, “Emmanuel…‘God is with us.’”
In noise and in silence, “Emmanuel…‘God is with us.’”
In gain and in loss, “Emmanuel…‘God is with us.’”
In life and in death, “Emmanuel…‘God is with us.’”
In all things God is with us, and nothing can separate us from his love. Nothing.
So today, and in the days ahead, hold fast to Emmanuel and ponder his constant presence. Seek him and you will find him. He’s already found you!
O Come! O Come, Emmanuel! Anne