Reading: Matthew 1:18-25
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.
We’ve read the birth narratives so often that we may have become a bit dulled to the extraordinary fact, foretold by the prophet Isaiah (7:14) that “God is with us.” God is Emmanuel.
Just let that sink in for a bit.
Many earlier religions believed that the gods visited earth from time to time, but they were never really “with us.” They incarnated out of curiosity, to seduce, to wreak mischief or havoc, or simply to strut their stuff. But they remained distant and disdainful. After slumming among humans for a few days, they inevitably returned to the celestial realms whence they came.
But the God you and I worship is different. Emmanuel is here to stay. We’re constantly in God’s presence, and he in ours.
As the Father, God is the Master Craftsman who creates the heavens and the earth, stamping them with his divine imprint. Wherever we look, the landscape is effulgent with God.
As the Son, God physically incarnates, pitching his tent in our midst, humbling himself out of sheer love to share our humanity so that we might partake of his divinity, dying so that we might live. Everyone we meet is a bearer of Christ. Whenever we gaze into another’s face, Christ stares back at us.
Through the Holy Spirit, Christ indwells each and every one of us, ceaselessly calling us to himself, gifting us with insight and inspiration, inviting us to so conform ourselves to holiness that it’s no longer we but Christ who lives in us.
Emmanuel yet again.
The fruit of the Spirit associated with the third week of Advent is joy. How entirely appropriate! How could we not rejoice, knowing that God is Emmanuel, always present to and in us and always loving us to fuller life?
– Fr. Kerry Walters
God is with us, but are you with God? Resolve today to make yourself more fully available to the Lord, and take one concrete step towards that goal. How can you comport yourself today to more mindfully embrace Emmanuel?