First Reading IS 7:10-14
The LORD spoke to Ahaz, saying:
Ask for a sign from the LORD, your God;
let it be deep as the netherworld, or high as the sky!
But Ahaz answered,
“I will not ask! I will not tempt the LORD!”
Then Isaiah said:
Listen, O house of David!
Is it not enough for you to weary people,
must you also weary my God?
Therefore the Lord himself will give you this sign:
the virgin shall conceive, and bear a son,
and shall name him Emmanuel.
Second Reading ROM 1:1-7
Paul, a slave of Christ Jesus,
called to be an apostle and set apart for the gospel of God,
which he promised previously through his prophets in the holy Scriptures,
the gospel about his Son, descended from David according to the flesh,
but established as Son of God in power
according to the Spirit of holiness
through resurrection from the dead, Jesus Christ our Lord.
Through him we have received the grace of apostleship,
to bring about the obedience of faith,
for the sake of his name, among all the Gentiles,
among whom are you also, who are called to belong to Jesus Christ;
to all the beloved of God in Rome, called to be holy.
Grace to you and peace from God our Father
and the Lord Jesus Christ.
Gospel MT 1:18-24
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 conceive 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.
To those of you who are beloved children of God and brothers and sisters of Christ, I Michael in spirit of St. Paul extend to you greetings and salutations. The words for today span hundreds of years of time as the prophet Isaiah brings the beginning of the story that a woman without having slept with a man will bear a son who will be called Immanuel. This is the beginning of the greatest act of hospitality that will ever be. God, in creating him/herself in the image of humanity, will begin the trek that will end in being put to death so that we may live. In Romans this is continued through St. Paul in repeating the order of the birth and in the gospel, the fear and shame of having a child out of wedlock is transformed into a humble and hospitable response from St. Joseph who in the end does not divorce Mary but remains.
We, who proclaim and claim the title of brother or sister of Jesus, through God’s grace and blessing, live in hope and joy of the birth as we reclaim our birth as the children of God and the brothers and sisters of Jesus Christ through our celebration of Christmas. I chose the type of introduction to this days readings to honor the memories of our forefathers and mothers who preached the gospel to those far away through the act of a letter, and because I live far away from my brothers and sisters in the ANCC so what better way to send my love and the love of St. Mary’s to all the ANCC than in a letter that proclaims this love to all.
In peace and in love of Christ I ask you to believe and pray in earnest that the light of the child will bless the world in peace and in love. I ask you to believe that in God all things are possible. I ask you to believe in the birth through the Holy Spirit and in belief that Joseph through the works of God, stayed with Mary throughout his life as a sign of fidelity to God and the love of Mary and Jesus. As the light rises and moves to Bethlehem, may the light of the Spirit of God descend upon you and all you know and all they know so the world can rejoice in the words of the Gospel of our Lord Jesus Christ!
May your Christmas tide be one of joy, peace and light in the Trinity!