He is Emmanuel
God is with us. “Behold, the virgin shall conceive and bear a son, and they shall name him Emmanuel” (Matthew 1:23). St. Matthew’s account of Jesus’ infancy establishes the extent God went to redeem lost humanity. If I borrow an adapted title of a classic English play by Oliver Goldsmith, we may say that God “stooped to conquer.” God showed his love to save humankind by becoming one with us humans. God humbles himself in doing so; he who originated and ordered all things stoops to our lowly, sinful form to save us. God so loves us to share in our humanity.
Bishop Barron captures the magnitude of God’s love in the following words from his Advent Gospel Reflections:
“The central claim of Christianity- still startling after two thousand years-is that God became human. The creator of the cosmos, who transcends any definition or concept, took to himself a nature like ours, becoming one of us. Christianity asserts that the infinite and the finite met, that the eternal and the temporal embraced, that the fashioner of the galaxies and planets became a baby too weak even to raise his head.”
God is with us. This is the importance of the fulfillment of Prophet Isaiah’s oracle: God will give the sign of his redemptive love for his people through his incarnation in the virgin who shall bear a son and shall be named Emmanuel (cf. !s 7:14). There is no other religion that makes such a claim that God became human to save humanity. This is God’s way of manifesting his deep interest in human conditions. Even if the contrary appears to be the case, God is genuinely part of human experience and reality. In the incarnation, God saved us. He continues to remain with us through the Holy Spirit to continue the work of redemption.
We experienced a sign of God’s presence with us in the rite of acceptance and welcome at the 10:30 am mass last week. WE REJOICE with Terry Martin, Drake Pugh, and Justin Collister, as each took a bold step towards becoming one with us and was accepted as a catechumen into our OCIA program. In addition, WE welcomed Alison Salley, Roxanne Dombrosky, and James Hathaway as candidates for full communion into the Catholic Church. We are all on this incredible journey of faith with them. They need our prayers and support as they make essential decisions toward fuller integration into Christ and his church. This Sunday, we hope to accept one more person into the catechumenate- Samantha Cornwell.
God is faithful to his church. The more we open ourselves to God, the more he comes into our lives. So may our heightened preparation for Christmas this week leads to the true incarnation of God’s word in our longing hearts.
In His love,
Fr. Bernard, OP